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Report Finds Gaps in the Country’s Ability to Control Infectious Disease Threats

More than half the states score low on indicators of prevention, detection, and response

A report released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has found that the U.S. needs better protection from infectious disease threats, including whooping cough, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

FierceHealthcare reports that states were scored on 10 indicators relating to outbreak diagnosis, prevention, and detection. No state achieved all 10, with five states tying for first place by achieving eight: New York, Virginia, Maine, Kentucky, and Delaware. Seven states spread across the nation tied for three indicators, the lowest score: Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Oregon, Kansas, Idaho, and Michigan. Twenty-eight states scored a five or lower.

The report also found that:

  • Only nine states cut their standardized infection ratio for central-line associated bloodstream infections between 2012 and 2013.
  • The national average for flu vaccination is 47.1%, with 18 states vaccinating the majority of their populations older than 6 months from fall 2014 to spring 2015.
  • Ninety percent of U.S. kindergartners get all recommended vaccinations, but the rates are lower in a number of individual communities and states, with nearly three in 10 preschoolers not receiving all recommended vaccinations.
  • Thirty-six states employ a biosafety professional in their public health laboratories, and 15 have developed plans on the effects of climate change on human health.

Going forward, TFAH made several policy recommendations, including:

  • Reducing antibiotic overuse while increasing the rate of vaccination.
  • Improving the interoperability of disease surveillance technology to allow inter-community cooperation on threat detection.
  • Strengthening policies to fight health care-associated infections (HAIs).

"We cannot afford to continue to be complacent," TFAH Executive Director Jeffrey Levi, PhD, said in a statement. "Infectious diseases — which are largely preventable — disrupt the lives of millions of Americans and contribute to billions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs each year." 

Source: Fierce Healthcare, December 17, 2015.

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