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RWJF: Many states not prepared to handle infectious disease outbreaks

Half of U.S. states are not prepared to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health.

“Over the last decade, we have seen dramatic improvements in state and local capacity to respond to outbreaks and emergencies. But we also saw during the recent Ebola outbreak that some of the most basic infectious disease controls failed when tested,” Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH, said in the report. “The Ebola outbreak is a reminder that we cannot afford to let our guard down. We must remain vigilant in preventing and controlling emerging threats — like MERS-CoV, pandemic flu and Enterovirus — but not at the expense of ongoing, highly disruptive and dangerous diseases, seasonal flu, HIV/AIDS, antibiotic resistance and healthcare-associated infections.”

“While some improvements have been made over the past decade in the country’s ability to protect Americans from, and respond to, emerging infectious diseases, wide variations exist from state to state, raising questions as to our ability to respond to new threats, such as Ebola,” the report stated.

Trust for America’s Health, with funding from RWJF, assessed each state’s policies and capacities to protect for infectious diseases using 10 indicators to measure areas of high priority and concern. Their key findings include:

• Preparing for emerging threats — Only 27 states and the District of Columbia met or exceeded the average score for Incident Information and Management in the National Health Security Preparedness Index.

• Vaccinations — Only 14 states vaccinated at least half their population against seasonal flu. Only 35 states and the District of Columbia met the goal for vaccinating young children against the hepatitis B virus. Healthy People 2020 target is 90% of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving at least three doses).

• Healthcare associated infections — One in every 25 people hospitalized each year contracted an HAI. Only 16 states performed better than the national standardized infection ratio for central-line-associated bloodstream infections. Only 10 states reduced the number of central line-associated bloodstream infections between 2011 and 2012.

• Sexually transmitted infections — New HIV infections rose among young gay men (up 22%) and young black men (up 48%). Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have in place the necessary reporting requirements to help prevent further transmission of HIV. More than one-third of gonorrhea cases are now antibiotic-resistant, and nearly three million Baby Boomers are infected with hepatitis C, the majority of whom do not know they have it.

• Food safety — 38 states met the national performance target of testing 90% of reported E. coli cases within four days.

“The best offense to fighting infectious diseases is a strong and steady defense,” Paul Kuehnert, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation director, said in the report. “Infectious disease control requires having systems in place, continuous training and practice and sustained, sufficient funding. As we work with communities across the nation to build a culture of health, we recognize that promoting and protecting health, and readiness to respond to wide-scale health threats are essential.”

To find our how your state scored or for more information, read the report at

By | 2014-12-23T00:00:00-05:00 December 23rd, 2014|Categories: National|0 Comments

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