CDC

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For the first time in more than two decades, U.S. life expectancy has dropped.

More than 2 million U.S. adults may be living with workplace-related asthma, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In troubling public health news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported just yesterday that combined cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia in the U.S. have climbed to the highest number on record.

“In my darker hours when I’m sleeping at night, that’s where I go.” Those are words from Eric Blank, senior director for public health systems at the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), talking about the enormous difficulties that public health labs faced in confronting the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. Now he fears that without emergency federal funds and in the face of new funding cuts, Zika virus will force the nation’s critical public health lab network into that same scenario — or into something even worse.

With near constant news on the threat of Zika virus and a quickly growing evidence base detailing the virus’ devastating impact on fetal brain development, you’d think Congress could get its act together to make sure our public health system is fully prepared and equipped to confront the mosquito-borne disease. Sadly, you’d be wrong.

Occupational Health News Roundup

CDC investigates diacetyl exposure in coffee production facilities; Supreme Court rules in favor of workers’ First Amendment rights; Latino workers still face the greatest fatality risks at work; and a job-seeking experiment finds women bear the brunt of age discrimination in the job market.

As summer approaches, mosquito bites will become common, and the Zika virus could start spreading in parts of the continental US. Although public health officials are working hard to address this threat, the response from many lawmakers has been disappointing and, in some cases, erected barriers to successful research.

A recent study finds vaccine refusals have, indeed, accelerated the resurgence of whooping cough and measles here in the U.S. The findings are making headlines around the country — and comment sections are filling up with vitriol from anti-vaxxers — but it would feel amiss not to highlight the study on a blog dedicated to public health. But first, let’s remind ourselves of the pain and suffering that preceded vaccines.

In another example of the value of investing in public health, a recent study finds that PulseNet, a national foodborne illness outbreak network, prevents about 276,000 illnesses every year, which translates into savings of $507 million in medical costs and lost productivity. That’s a pretty big return on investment for a system that costs just $7.3 million annually to operate.

Another day, another study on the potentially life-saving impact of vaccines. This time it’s a new study on the vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer. Earlier this week, researchers announced that since the vaccine came on the scene, rates of HPV among young women in the U.S. have plummeted.