What is an Infectious Disease That Needs Greater Attention Right Now?

Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares which infectious disease he feels needs greater attention.

Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares which infectious disease he feels needs greater attention.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability):

“I think that there are many threats out there, and it’s likely that the next threat won’t be something that we have specifically prepared for, like Zika (not really foreseeable.) Of all those things that we do know of out there in the world, a pandemic of influenza is something that we really do need to pay special attention to. That would be an animal influenza virus that develops the capability of being spread from person-to-person. We had an instance of that in 2009. That particular virus didn’t have the mortality rate or the severe illness rate that it might have so it was less severe than the previous three influenza pandemics. The next influenza pandemic, which we probably will have… we don’t know when, we don’t know how severe it will be—that’s something that we really need to work to be ready for.

In the long term, having a vaccine that is effective against more than the particular strains of influenza would be the answer. In the short term, we really need to be able to respond quickly to these instances of animal influenza viruses being identified in people. There is a laboratory requirement to have quick detection, and depending on the characteristics of that virus, developing diagnostic tests, evaluating the anti-influenza drugs. If it is spread from person-to-person, starting work on a vaccine. Getting all of those things in place and practiced so that in the case of an emergency, it’s as routine as it can be.”