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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced awards of nearly $110 million to help states and communities strengthen their capacity to track and respond to infectious diseases. The awards represent an increase of about $13 million over fiscal year 2014 funding, with increases going to vaccine-preventable-disease surveillance, foodborne-disease prevention and advanced molecular detection, among other projects.
The funding is allocated through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement (ELC), with a goal of helping states fight infectious disease outbreaks more quickly and develop better interventions to protect the public’s health. Of the nearly $110 million, $51 million is provided through the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. That funding will support:
• Infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response
• Public health laboratories
• Health information systems
• Efforts to combat zoonotic, vector-borne and foodborne diseases; vaccine-preventable infections; influenza; and healthcare-associated infections.
“In the last year alone, states were hit with emerging diseases, like chikungunya and respiratory infections from enterovirus D-68, while also responding to outbreaks of measles, foodborne illness, and other threats. These awards lay the foundation for those on the front lines – state and local health departments – to act quickly to prevent illness and deaths,” says Beth P. Bell, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
CDC funds all 50 state health departments, six local health departments (Chicago, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles County, New York City and Philadelphia), and eight territories or U.S. affiliates, including U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam, through the ELC mechanism. The funding helps pay the salaries of nearly 1,500 epidemiologists, lab technicians, and health information systems staff in the state, territorial, local, and tribal health departments.
This year’s funding includes:
• $6 million to establish local, state and territorial health coordinators to track vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and pertussis.
• $17.4 million for foodborne disease prevention and tracking – a $4 million increase over fiscal year 2014 funding. This includes increased support for the PulseNet surveillance system and outbreak response and for the Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence to establish a new Northeast Regional center.
• More than $2 million to help states build their capacity for advanced molecular detection, an emerging field that combines next-generation genomic sequencing with bioinformatics to more quickly identify and respond to disease outbreaks.
• Approximately $1.5 million to help states fight Lyme and other tickborne diseases. CDC research shows that Lyme disease has been spreading geographically in recent years and CDC estimates that it affects about 300,000 people per year.
• Approximately $9.2 million to aid state, local, and territorial health departments in building and maintaining disease detection, surveillance, and prevention programs to reduce the number of human infections with West Nile virus and other mosquito- and tick-borne arboviruses.
• Resources to help states on the U.S.-Mexico border prepare for and respond to potential outbreaks of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus. Chikungunya surfaced in the Western Hemisphere for the first time in late 2013 and last year infected more than 1.5 million people throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.
Funding through the ELC mechanism also supports the nation’s fight against healthcare-associated infections and the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, efforts in which multiple federal agencies and private-sector organizations are participating.
For more information on CDC’s ELC cooperative agreement and the breakdown of FY15 funding, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dpei/epidemiology-laboratory-capacity.html.