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It's Early in the Flu Season, but It's Shaping Up to Be a Nasty One

           

cbsnews.com - by Jonathan Lapook - December 26, 2017

As the holiday season continues, the U.S. is also entering peak flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 650,000 people worldwide could die from complications of the flu . . .

 . . . It's very early in the flu season but it's shaping up to be a nasty one. Texas is one of 23 states already seeing high flu activity, more than double the number from the week before.

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CLICK HERE - Texas Department of State Health Services - 2017 - 2018 Texas Influenza Surveillance Activity Report

CLICK HERE - CDC - FluView - Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

CLICK HERE - TEXASFLU.org

 

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HHS selects nine regional Ebola and other special pathogen treatment centers

New network expands US ability to respond to outbreaks of severe, highly infectious diseases

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES            June 12, 2015

WASHINGTON -- To further strengthen the nation’s infectious disease response capability, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has selected nine health departments and associated partner hospitals to become special regional treatment centers for patients with Ebola or other severe, highly infectious diseases.

HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has awarded approximately $20 million through its Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) to enhance the regional treatment centers’ capabilities to care for patients with Ebola or other highly infectious diseases. ASPR will provide an additional $9 million to these recipients in the subsequent four years to sustain their readiness...

The nine awardees and their partner hospitals are:

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What Did the U.S. Learn from Ebola? How to Prepare for Bioterrorist Attacks

FOREIGN POLICY  by Siobhán O'Grady                        April 13, 2015
When the Ebola virus spread from Guinea to Sierra Leone and Liberia last spring, the initial international response was labeled a failure. By the time President Barack Obama ordered troops to the affected countries in September, more than 2,400 people were dead.

But in the United States, where major hospitals prepared for an outbreak, there were only four in-country diagnoses, one of which resulted in a death. And some see the urgency of that response as a lesson in how the government can prepare for another public health hazard: a bioterrorist attack.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally chairs a House subcommittee that will examine over the next few months the threat of bioterrorist attacks and U.S. preparedness to respond to them. She told Foreign Policy that even if a disease outbreak and the use of a biological agent in a coordinated attack are not completely analogous, the response strains similar systems.

“We can learn lessons from other outbreaks that are naturally occurring,” she said. “We can identify weaknesses in our response and even if it wasn’t terrorism, it presses the system at the same level....”

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CDC - MMWR - Ebola Virus Disease in a Humanitarian Aid Worker — New York City, October 2014

cdc.gov - April 3, 2015

In late October 2014, Ebola virus disease (Ebola) was diagnosed in a humanitarian aid worker who recently returned from West Africa to New York City (NYC). . . .

. . . In NYC, the public health response to one Ebola case was resource intensive for a local health department, with participation of more than 500 DOHMH staff members and expenditures of more than $4,300,000 in DOHMH funds. These figures include not only the direct costs of the local public health response (e.g., contact tracing, environmental issues, and health care worker monitoring) but also the indirect costs of increasing citywide preparedness after identifying the one case (e.g., enhancing hospital preparedness, active monitoring of returning travelers, and community outreach).

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Ebola Doctor: Media, politicians fueled the public's fears

ASSOCIATED PRESS   by Tom McElroy                                                             Feb. 25, 2015

NEW YORK — A doctor who contracted the deadly Ebola virus and rode the subway system and dined out before he developed symptoms said the media and politicians could have done a better job by educating people on the science of it instead of focusing on their fears.

 "When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we'll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond — and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did," Dr. Craig Spencer wrote in an article published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. (See link below.)

Spencer, an emergency room physician, was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 23, days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. His was the first Ebola case in the nation's largest city, spurring an effort to contain anxieties along with the virus. He was treated at a hospital, recovered and was released on Nov. 11.

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Report Slams U.S. Ebola Response and Readiness

NBC NEWS  by Maggie Fox                                                                               Feb. 26, 2015

The United States fumbled its response to the Ebola epidemic before it even began, neglecting experiments to make vaccines and drugs against the virus, and cutting funding to key public health agencies, a presidential commission said Thursday.

Americans focused on their own almost nonexistent risk of catching Ebola from travelers instead of pressing to help the truly affected nations, the scathing report from the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues says.

They've been acting against their own best interest, the commission said in its report.

"Both justice and prudence demand that we do our part in combating such devastating outbreaks. Once we recognize our humanitarian obligations and the ability of infectious diseases to travel in our interconnected world, we cannot choose between the ethical and the prudential," it reads.

"Ethics and enlightened interest converge in calling for our country to address epidemics at their source."

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COMMENTARY: When the next shoe drops — Ebola crisis communication lessons from October

CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE AND POLICY                                                                   Dec. 9, 2014          
By  Peter M. Sandman, PhD, and Jody Lanard, MD  

In contrast to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which started in late 2013 and will last well into 2015 or longer, the US "Ebola crisis" was encapsulated in a single month, October 2014. But there may well be US Ebola cases to come, brought here by travelers or returning volunteers. And other emerging infectious diseases will surely reach the United States in the months and years ahead.

So now is a propitious time to harvest some crisis communication lessons from the brief US Ebola "crisis."

We're putting "crisis" in quotation marks because there was never an Ebola public health crisis in the United States, nor was there a significant threat of one. But there was a crisis of confidence, a period of several weeks during which many Americans came to see the official response to domestic Ebola as insufficiently cautious, competent, and candid—and therefore felt compelled to implement or demand additional responses of their own devising....

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Notable Absence of New Ebola Quarantines at New York Area Airports

NEW YORK TIMES    By Anemona Hartocollis                                                          NOV. 24, 2014

NEW YORK   ...since Kaci Hickox, a nurse, flew into Newark’s airport on Oct. 24 and was kept at a hospital for three days, no one else has been caught up in the quarantine dragnet at the New York and New Jersey airports.

The absence of quarantines is striking, not only because both governors emphatically defended the policy as a necessary precaution, but also because most people returning from Ebola-stricken countries arrive in the United States through Kennedy and Newark Liberty International Airports.

...New York and New Jersey officials say no one coming through the two airports since Ms. Hickox has reported direct contact with Ebola patients.

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N.Y. doctor, free of Ebola, discharged from hospital

USA TODAY                                             Nov. 11, 2014
By Matthew Diebel, Doug Stanglin and Liz Szabo

NEW YORK — Craig Spencer, a New York doctor whose hospitalization for Ebola stirred fears that the disease might spread throughout Manhattan, was declared free of the virus Tuesday and released from the hospital...

Dr. Craig Spencer, center, is flanked by New York City Mayor Bill Bill de Blasio, left, and his wife Chirlane McCray as he leaves Bellevue Hospital after being declared free of the Ebola virus on Nov. 11 in New York. (Photo: Andrew Gombert, European Pressphoto Agency)

The release of the 33-year-old physician, who tested positive for the virus Oct. 23, means there are no longer any known Ebola cases being treated in the United States.

The volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patients in Guinea in West Africa, said:

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Craig Spencer, New York Doctor With Ebola, Will Leave Bellevue Hospital

UPDATE 

New York doctor cleared of Ebola, which means there are no known Ebola cases in the U.S.

WASHINGTON POST                                                                     Nov. 10, 2014

By Mark Herman

The doctor who contracted Ebola in West Africa before returning to New York City has been declared free of the virus, hospital officials announced Monday. This news means that 41 days after the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, there are no known cases of the virus in the country.

Craig Spencer, 33, who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea, was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 23. Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City, where Spencer was being treated, confirmed in a statement Monday that he “has been declared free of the virus.” Spencer will be discharged on Tuesday, according to the hospital.

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