Local Infectious Disease Response Efforts Receive $200 Million Boost from CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing local agencies with a boost—in the form of $200 million—to improve surveillance, laboratory diagnostic capabilities, and outbreak response.

Because infectious diseases are first and foremost fought and caught by agencies on a local level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing them with a boost—in the form of $200 million—to improve surveillance, laboratory diagnostic capabilities, and outbreak response.

Awarded through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) cooperative agreement, the funds are, “to help states, cities, counties, and territories prevent, detect, respond to, and control the growing threats posed by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases,” according to the CDC’s press release.

A total of $77 million of the funding is earmarked specifically for helping each and every state health department fight antibiotic-resistance threats, such as antibiotic-resistant foodborne infections and infections in healthcare facilities and communities.

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, spoke about the threat of antibiotic resistance in the press release, stating, “More than 23,000 people in the United States die each year from infections caused by antibiotic resistance. CDC is committed to helping states and cities strengthen their ability to combat antibiotic resistance, and these funds will help state efforts to keep people safe.”

Enhancements are also being made the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (AR Lab Network), which will “sound the alarm when known and emerging antibiotic resistance threats are detected,” according to the press release.

Changes to the AR Lab Network include:

  • Increasing testing nationwide for the fungal threat Candida, including emerging drug-resistant Candida auris fungi.
  • Strengthening national tuberculosis surveillance and infrastructure by adding a new national laboratory.
  • Enhancing detection of drug-resistant gonorrhea threats using whole-genome sequencing.

In addition, part of the $77 million will be used to expand on the CDC’s PulseNet, which tracks food-borne illnesses. State-level public health labs will “work toward performing WGS on food and waterborne bacteria, including Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter.”

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) will continue to be tested for in all 50 states, including 6 major cities (Chicago, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles County, New York City, and Philadelphia), and in Puerto Rico.

According to the press release, funding from the ELC is also being used to provide “resources for other infectious disease control activities, including supporting states’ continued vigilance against Zika.” The CDC has already provided over $300 million to state, local, and territorial health departments in fiscal year 2017; $100.8 of which were part of a “supplemental, one-time investment to fight Zika.”

The remaining 2017 funding, a total of $124 million, will go to more than 40 projects, including those to:

  • Enhance influenza surveillance and diagnostic testing, parasitic diseases, tick-borne diseases, West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, food-borne diseases, water-borne disease detection
  • Establish and maintain local, state, and territorial health coordinators to track vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and pertussis.
  • 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
  • Protect the public health and safety of the American people by strengthening cross-cutting national surveillance, boosting laboratory infrastructure with the latest diagnostic technologies, and enhancing health information systems to efficiently transmit, receive, and analyze infectious disease-related data electronically.
  • Support states’ continued vigilance against Zika virus outbreaks and associated adverse health outcomes, including microcephaly and other serious birth defects.