By Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, NACCHO President and Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge (MA) Public Health Department
Vaccines are one of the most important achievements in public health and have prevented wide-scale illness and death since their conception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born between 1994 and 2013.1
Despite their incredible ability to prevent the spread of harmful diseases, gaps in vaccination coverage persist. In 2014, a record-breaking 667 cases of measles were reported nationally, the largest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. In my own backyard, Harvard University recently experienced an outbreak of mumps that affected over 50 students, faculty, and staff. My health department worked collaboratively with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Harvard University Health Services to facilitate diagnosis and laboratory testing, disseminate public health messaging, and conduct contact tracing investigations. Continue reading
The following post was originally published on NACCHO’s Healthy People, Healthy Places blog. For more information about environmental health and infectious disease, visit http://essentialelements.naccho.org/.
As local health departments prepare for cases of Zika in their communities, creative solutions and partnerships are necessary to control the spread of the virus. With recent outbreaks of Zika in the Americas, the number of Zika cases will increase and imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.
In the following interview, Sarah D. Matthews, MPH, Epidemiology Department Program Manager at the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange), shares how her health department is engaging in a public-private partnership to test for suspected Zika virus cases. Thanks to existing partnerships with Florida Hospital and Orlando Health Systems, DOH-Orange has been able to build the capability to support medical providers with resources to facilitate the collection and shipping of appropriate specimens to the state’s lab for Zika virus testing.
Q: How does DOH-Orange collaborate with hospitals during the specimen collection and testing process for Zika?
A: Since Florida receives a lot of travelers from Zika-affected countries, on Feb. 3 our Governor Rick Scott directed the State Surgeon General to declare a public health emergency for the counties of residents with travel-associated cases of Zika. Continue reading
By LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director, NACCHO
January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a time when local health departments (LHDs) can increase awareness of cervical cancer, the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) as the leading cause of cervical cancer, and the importance of prevention and early detection in their communities.
Although the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased over time in the United States, thousands of women and their families, friends, and caregivers are affected by cervical cancer each year. Continue reading
By LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director, NACCHO
Today is World AIDS Day, a day to remember those who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS, reflect on our progress and the challenges that remain, and unite in our commitment to an AIDS-free generation. The U.S. theme for World AIDS Day 2015 is “The Time to Act Is Now.” This year presents an opportunity to celebrate tremendous progress in expanding access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care; focus on the ambitious—but feasible—targets to end the HIV epidemic; and achieve the UNAIDS vision of “zero new HIV infections, zero HIV deaths, and zero HIV stigma.” We know what it takes to prevent HIV infections and improve the lives of people living with HIV. We must continue to build on our successes by scaling up what works, now. Continue reading
By Dr. Swannie Jett, NACCHO President
Before students returned to school for the start of the current school year, many received required vaccines to stay healthy and avoid life-threatening diseases. Vaccines not only protect children and their long-term health, but also the health of their communities. While many states debate extending or restricting exemptions for vaccines, healthcare professionals at local health departments and in pediatricians’ offices are keeping students safe from diseases by providing necessary immunizations. Continue reading
The following post was originally published on NACCHO’s new Healthy People, Healthy Places blog. The blog offers the latest news, resources, tools, and events for local health departments on issues such as climate change, vector-borne and infectious diseases, foodborne illnesses, and immunization. Visit the blog at http://essentialelements.naccho.org/.
Rates of vaccine-preventable diseases have decreased significantly in the last century with the development of safe and effective vaccines. Diseases like whooping cough and diphtheria used to kill thousands of people each year, but many doctors today have never even seen a case. The United States is also on its way to reaching 80% standard vaccine series coverage for children 19 to 35 months, with coverage rates increasing from 44.3% in 2009 to 68.4% in 2012. To capitalize on this success and keep the momentum going, your local health department can promote the importance of vaccines during National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) in August. Continue reading
By Hilary N. McQuie, MA, Senior Program Analyst, HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis, NACCHO
This post originally ran on NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief blog. For more preparedness news and information, visit http://www.nacchopreparedness.org.
The HIV and related hepatitis C (HCV) outbreak among people who inject drugs (PWID), particularly oxymorphone (OPANA®), in Scott County, IN, is an unprecedented situation. However, the conditions that led to the outbreak are not unique to Scott County, which highlights the potential for a similar situation to occur elsewhere. Since December 2014, 160 new HIV cases have been diagnosed among the Scott County town of Austin’s 4,200 residents, representing a “higher incidence of HIV than any country in sub-Saharan Africa,” as CDC Director Thomas Frieden has remarked. HCV rates among those diagnosed with HIV are estimated to be over 90% and the projected cost of treatment for these twin outbreaks is currently $100 million. Continue reading