The health threats of 2016 came in all sizes, ranging from drug-resistant superbugs to Zika-carrying mosquitoes to a powerful hurricane. In a digital press kit released today, CDC highlights key agency activities during 2016 and previews what could come in 2017. In its 70th year, CDC continues to protect the health of all Americans, whether threats came from infectious or chronic diseases, environmental dangers, occupational hazards, or injuries.
“In 2016, CDC continued protecting Americans by fighting health threats,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “By using the best science to stop disease where it starts and strengthen public health systems, we keep Americans safer and healthier.”
Protecting Pregnancies by Responding to Zika
CDC began work on Zika when the virus swept Brazil in mid-2015; by January, CDC had advised pregnant women not to travel to areas where Zika is spreading and activated its Emergency Operations Center. CDC scientists soon created a rapid diagnostic test for Zika authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization and, as we learned more about the virus’s disastrous effects on the developing fetus, took additional actions to protect pregnant women. A major success ending a Zika outbreak in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami demonstrated the efficacy of aggressive vector control measures that included aerial spraying to kill both adult and larval mosquitoes and eliminating standing water. Every day CDC learned more about the virus, its effects on pregnancy, the mosquitoes that carry it, outbreaks it causes, and how best to protect pregnant women.
Protecting Americans by Combatting Antibiotic Resistance
Recognizing that rapidly spreading antibiotic resistance threatens to return the world to the days when simple infections could kill people, CDC is strengthening the nation’s ability to detect, respond to, and prevent superbug threats. In 2016, the agency played a key role in supporting the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and made critical investments in research. CDC provided funds to health departments in July 2016 to help tackle antibiotic resistance and patient safety threats nationwide, including healthcare-associated infections and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), through the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network. Looking ahead, CDC will continue to keep Americans safe from the urgent threats of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and healthcare-associated infections.
CDC and physicians are making it easier to protect adolescents from cancer. CDC issued updated guidelines in 2016 recommending youth 11- to 12-years-old receive two doses of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine at least six months apart, rather than the three doses recommended previously, to protect against cancers caused by HPV infections. After 10 years of HPV vaccination in the United States, evidence suggests that HPV vaccination is significantly reducing HPV infection and HPV-associated cancers and disease. Since the introduction of HPV vaccine, prevalence of HPV infection, genital warts, and cervical precancers has decreased in the United States. In 2017, CDC will continue to enhance HPV disease prevention by improving vaccination coverage through public policy and clinical practice.
Preventing Prescription Drug Overdose
In March 2016, CDC issued guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose. CDC also increased funding for state programs and in 2017 will continue to help states develop tailored opioid overdose prevention programs that work. For example, the Prescription Drug Overdose Data-Driven Prevention Initiative will award funds for the next three years to 13 states and the District of Columbia. These funds will help American communities develop opioid overdose prevention programs tailored to local needs.
Keeping Americans Safe by Advancing Global Health Security
In 2016, CDC made critical progress advancing global health security. More than 40 countries have either completed or are in the process of undergoing a Joint External Evaluation – a crucial accountability mechanism that, for the first time, objectively and transparently identifies gaps in global preparedness. CDC’s Global Rapid Response Team (Global RRT) – a highly trained workforce ready to deploy on short notice anywhere in the world – led the response to a significant yellow fever outbreak in Angola. By its first-year anniversary, the Global RRT staff had supported responses in 18 countries, spending 5,000 person-days in more than 140 responses to cholera, yellow fever, Ebola, measles, polio, Zika, mass gatherings and natural disasters. The most effective and least expensive way to protect Americans from health threats that begin overseas is to stop them before they spread.
Tobacco Use in the United States
CDC’s national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers, shared the moving personal stories of Americans suffering from smoking-related illnesses. Due to the Tips campaign and other interventions, there are now 10 million fewer smokers in the U.S. than there were in 2009. In 2016, its fifth year, the latest evaluation of Tips impact shows it is as effective today as in its first year, saving lives for less than $3,000 each. In 2017, CDC will launch the next round of ads to help people quit smoking and live longer.
Rapid Response Saves Lives
This year, CDC’s Advanced Molecular Detection initiative helped scientists and laboratory specialists use technology to develop quickly the diagnostic tools to best fight diseases such as Zika. State-of-the-art genomic tools are changing the way CDC solves foodborne outbreaks faster by linking food sources to clusters of illness and recognizing outbreaks before they become widespread. By expanding these methods nationwide, we can get contaminated products off store shelves and out of people’s homes sooner to save more lives. In a recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, CDC was able to help a state health department quickly identify the outbreak source through genetic fingerprinting. Moving forward, CDC is working to build capacity in state and local public health labs to further advance detection and surveillance of infectious pathogens in the United States.
CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, stem from human error or deliberate attack, CDC is committed to responding to America’s most pressing health challenges. The agency continues to reflects on the lessons learned over the past year and is committed to helping make 2017 the nation’s healthiest year yet.