Posts Tagged ‘CDC’

Let’s Get Screened

April 10th, 2014

letsgetscreenedColorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Arizona.  Across men and women, all age groups, races, and ethnicities, about ½ of all colorectal cancer diagnoses in Arizona are late-stage, which are more difficult to treat. Our Fit at Fifty HealthCheck Program screens about 1,500 Arizonans per year by providing Fecal Immunochemical Tests and colonoscopies for individuals who qualify. For more information about the Fit at Fifty program, contact Emily Wozniak or Virginia Warren.

The CDC, the American Cancer Society, National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, and Health Resources Services Administration have kicked off the “80% by 2018” initiative to prioritize colorectal cancer screenings nationwide. This movement aims to get 80% of Americans screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. This is a result of the facts surrounding the status of colorectal cancer screening nationwide: not enough Americans are up-to-date on their screenings, and too many are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at late stages. According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20.

Healthcare Associated Infections Progress Report

April 8th, 2014

haiprogressreportHealthcare-Associated infections are a major (often preventable) threat to patient safety. Last week the National and State Healthcare Associated Infections Progress Report expanded on previous reports- detailing progress toward the eliminating healthcare-associated infections.  The HAI Progress Report found significant reductions for nearly all infections- including in AZ. Central line-associated bloodstream infections and surgical site infections continued to approach the 5-year goals set in the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections.

Arizona’s public health system takes a layered approach to preventing HAI’s in our state.  It starts with our Licensing team- who regulates the healthcare institutions where the care happens.  Our Medical Facilities Licensing team and our HAI Program collaborate to ensure the safety of patients in Arizona by jointly providing technical assistance and guidance to licensed healthcare facilities in response to identified infection control breaches.  The next layer is our network of public health disease detectives.  Our Healthcare-Associated Infections Program and the counties conduct epidemiologic investigations when we get reports of unsafe injection practices affecting multiple patients.

Our HAI Program and Advisory Committee also generate guidance documents for healthcare facilities and provide best practices for infection control and injection safety like materials produced through the CDC’s One and Only Campaign and Arizona’s Stakeholder-driven No Place Like Home initiative- which partners with the national Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs project.

Send Your Teen to CDC’s Disease Detective Camp this Summer

March 21st, 2014

The CDC just began accepting applications for their annual summer Disease Detective Camp.  The Camp is open to motivated students who’ll be high-school juniors or seniors during the 2014-2015 school year.  Over the course of five days, campers  take on the role of disease detectives.   Campers can expect a variety of experiences including re-created outbreaks, mock press conferences, environmental and global health activities, a laboratory session, an introduction to chronic disease surveillance, public health law, and short lectures from world-renowned CDC scientists.  Here’s a sample schedule

Applicants need to be 16 years old by the first day of the camp in order to comply with CDC’s laboratory safety requirements.  Two sessions will be offered this summer:  June 23-27, and July 21-25.  Applicants are selected based on the Application Essay Questions submitted and the teacher/counselor Recommendation Form.  Applications need to be postmarked by April 11. 

The Camp is free, but campers are responsible for providing their own accommodations and transportation. Campers in past years have stayed with family friends or relatives in Atlanta.

A Key Measure of Preparedness Improves in AZ

March 18th, 2014

During a major crisis, such as an influenza pandemic, we might need to take extraordinary steps to ensure that healthcare workers have the medicines and supplies on hand to treat patients.  State, local, and federal agencies all participate in the Strategic National Stockpile program to help ensure that these critical resources are available during disaster situations.

The main purpose of our Strategic National Stockpile program is to distribute medicines, vaccine, and supplies during all types of public health emergencies.  This year, we improved that capability once again.  Scores for our state and local programs rose this year according to the CDC’s annual Technical Assistance Review.  Every year, the CDC looks at key “functional areas” across the state and in select local jurisdictions.  The Review score rose up to 97%, Maricopa County maintained its high mark of 99%, and Pinal County achieved a 100% in all 12 areas. 

These outstanding scores demonstrate our statewide commitment to the Strategic National Stockpile program, and highlight the extraordinary efforts of our public health preparedness teams.  Here’s how to learn more about the Strategic National Stockpile program.


Obesity Drops Among Preschoolers

March 5th, 2014

The latest CDC obesity data published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association found a significant decline in obesity among kids aged 2 to 5. Obesity prevalence for this age group declined by 43% in the last 8 years (from 14% in 2004 to 8% in 2012.  While the precise reasons for the decline in obesity aren’t clear, many child care centers have started to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards over the past few years (like our (EMPOWER Program).  In addition, CDCs data shows a decrease in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among kids in recent years. Another possible factor might be the improvement in breastfeeding rates- which helps stave off obesity. 


Detecting Scary Diseases

February 25th, 2014

Disease outbreaks can come from anywhere. In Arizona we’ve had illness from contaminated pomegranate seeds from the Middle East, measles from Switzerlandsalmonellosis from African dwarf frogs and cholera from Peru. More recently a Canadian traveler died of H5N1 after she returned home from a long trip to China. An exotic disease from another country is only hours away. West Nile virus likely came from Israel on a plane ride to New York in 1999 and now we see it every year here in Arizona. 

Right now, world health officials are keeping an eye on dozens of potentially dangerous new pathogens, from H7N9 bird flu in China, to the MERS virus in the Middle East, drug resistant bacteriaH5N1 bird flu in Southeast Asia, to Bas-Congo virus in the Congo. The Bas-Congo virus is a two-headed monster that causes bleeding like Ebola and invading the nerves like rabies. 

Effective disease surveillance in other countries helps to protect both their population and the US, since infectious diseases are only a plane ride away. Working with local governments and health officials, CDC recently set up two demonstration projects in Uganda and Vietnam to see if it would be possible to quickly scale up an effective surveillance and response. 

The project focuses on: 1) strengthening the public health laboratory system; 2) enhancing the existing communications and an online information system, and 3) developing a public health emergency operations center. In just six months, the CDC pilot program in Uganda found cases of West Nile virus, Zika virus, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus, hepatitis E virus, and a bacteria that causes dangerous meningitis. 

We don’t know which disease will come next, but I’m confident the public health surveillance and laboratory system will detect it.


Influenza Still Widespread in AZ

February 21st, 2014

A report out by the CDC this week found that people between 18 and 64 years old make up 61% of all flu-related hospitalizations so far this season in the US.   In normal years only about 35% of flu hospitalizations are from this age group. H1N1 (the flu strain we saw circulating in the 2009 flu pandemic) is still the main culprit.  H1N1 is included in this year’s vaccine, so people who got vaccinated will be protected from the flu in most cases.  People who’ve been vaccinated with the flu shot this year are 61% less likely to have to go to the doctor according to today’s report. 

Influenza is still widespread In Arizona.  If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you may need to call around to find whether a healthcare provider or pharmacy near you still has vaccine in stock. Remember to get your shot early next season so you’re protected for the entire flu season. Visit to find a shot.


2014 Comisión Sonora-Arizona

February 10th, 2014

I just got back  from attending the 2014 Comisión Sonora-Arizona meeting (the sister Commission to the Arizona-Mexico Commission).  The theme for this year’s Fall/Winter Sonora Plenary was, “Energy Transforms Sonora and Arizona.”  I co-chair the Health Services Committee along with Dr. William Neubauer.  On the Sonora side, the Health Services Committee is co-chaired by Dr. Bernardo Campillo Garcia the Secretary of Health for the State of Sonora and by Dr. Jorge Isacc Cardoza Amador.  Dr. Campillo and I represent the Public Sector and Dr. Neubauer and Dr. Cardoza represent the private sector. 

During the Plenary Session two Declarations of Cooperation were also signed by the governors.  One Declaration commits us to develop a Binational campaign for the prevention of illicit substances and to promote the benefits of living in communities that are free of illicit substances.  The other Declaration had to do with working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their Mexican counterpart, Mexico’s Instituto de Diagnóstico y Referencia Epidemiológicos (their CDC) to develop a protocol for crossing appropriate specimens for diagnosis of diseases. 

The relationship between the ADHS and the Secretaria de Salud de Sonora allows both states to set the bar for the rest of the U.S.-Mexico Border when dealing with public health issues that affect our communities.  We also interact with the other U.S.-Mexico Border States through participation as a member of the United-States-Mexico Border Health Commission and as a Delegate to the United States-Mexico Border Governors Conference Health and Emergency management Worktable.

Influenza is Widespread in Arizona

January 24th, 2014

Influenza has been steadily spreading in Arizona over the last few weeks and this week we hit the Widespread Influenza threshold.  In fact, the number of cases increased by 50% this week- and several Arizona emergency departments are backed up with substantial wait times.  CDC’s report is due to come out Friday… but I’d guess that most states will also report widespread activity.  H1N1, the flu strain that caused the 2009 pandemic, is the most common strain out there right now. 

Luckily, this year’s flu vaccine includes H1N1, so people who’ve been vaccinated will be protected. If you haven’t gotten your shot yet, you still can – just remember it takes about 2 weeks for the shot to fully protect you.  Some other things to remember are to stay home when you’re sick so you don’t infect other people, wash your hands often, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze. Also, if you’re not having severe symptoms like a really hard time breathing or chest pain, then call your doctor instead of heading straight to the ER. 

On the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) front… we’ve had 495 cases reported so far this year. That’s about a 70% decrease from the number of cases we saw this time last year. Like every year, most of our cases are in kids under the age of 5, so it’s really important to keep your little ones healthy by washing their hands often, keeping them away from other sick kids, and keeping them at home when they’re ill.

Publishing Our Accreditation Success

December 24th, 2013

As soon as the health department accreditation movement started in early 2010 we quickly recognized that statewide public health accreditation could substantially help us with our goal of achieving improvements in public health outcomes in AZ.  Our first task was to scope out the resources we’d need to achieve statewide accreditation and then tap into some funds to make it happen.   

When the CDC’s National Public Health Improvement Initiative funding became available we used the opportunity to dedicate the initial resources we’d need to building out a sustainable program.  Our first step was to execute contracts for our local health departments to complete a county health assessment, health improvement plan, and a strategic plan.  We even developed a SharePoint site to track and monitor the progress.    

Our initiative was so successful that we decided to publish what we did in the January ’14 issue of Journal of Health Management and Practice.  It’s basically a case study that focuses on our innovative financial incentive and technical assistance support model that enabled Arizona’s counties to complete their county health assessments, health improvement plans, and strategic plans.  We’re now building on the counties’ success by preparing a State Health Assessment (on track for publication in January of ‘14) and the State Health Improvement Plan.