Over the past decade alone, epidemiologists have been kept busy responding to infectious disease outbreaks with enormous global health and economic impacts.
Crises like the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009 and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa have shown how widely and quickly diseases can travel.
To highlight its efforts to contain and alleviate outbreaks, the CDC will for the first time publish a special supplement to its journal Emerging Infectious Diseases discussing programs created to effectively respond to them.
The CDC recently released the supplement’s first article, titled “US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its Partners’ Contributions to Advance Global Health Security.” The article provides an overview of these programs.
“In less than 36 hours, an outbreak that begins in a remote village can reach major cities on any continent and become a global crisis,” lead author Jordan W. Tappero, MD, MPH, senior advisor to the CDC’s Center for Global Health, said in a CDC news release. “Even outbreaks that don’t cross national boundaries can have an economic impact on the U.S.”
The programs designed to reduce the impact of global outbreaks include the CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), which operates in more than 60 countries. Modeled on the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, FETP had about 3,800 epidemiologists conducting more than 3,300 outbreak investigations from 2005 to 2016, according to the news release.
The CDC also watches for disease outbreaks and emergencies throughout the world through its Global Disease Detection Operations Center (GDDOC). Staff members search the internet and other media for disease news, and the program is prolific.
“During 2007 to 2016, GDDOC conducted event-based surveillance and disseminated information on more than 1,500 outbreaks occurring in more than 190 countries,” they wrote. “GDDOC outbreak response support has included staff deployments and the provision of personal protective equipment, laboratory diagnostic test equipment, reagents and supplies.”
Regional global disease detection (GDD) centers contribute further surveillance that serves more than 90 countries. GDD center staff detect pathogens and conduct research, among other activities.