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CDC year in review: “Mission: Critical”

It’s been an unprecedented year for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as America’s public health agency continues its emergency response to the most complex Ebola epidemic in history. Ebola, however, is far from the only critical mission CDC undertook in 2014.

“CDC’s Ebola response is the largest global effort in the agency’s history, but we’re carrying out many other public-health missions crucial to protecting American lives,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We’re taking action on a wide range of health threats.”

In a digital press kit released today, CDC reviews its responses to the 10 most important public-health challenges of 2014:

Mission: New Infectious Disease Threats

1.With 170 staff in the field and more than 700 people working on Ebola at any one time, CDC’s response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest in the agency’s history. “Americans will be 100 percent safe only when we succeed in stopping Ebola at its source in West Africa,” Dr. Frieden said.

2.CDC has made important progress against antibiotic resistance, but it remains a serious threat. Combatting antibiotic resistance and preventing healthcare-associated infections remains a critical initiative for 2015. “Every day we don’t act to better protect antibiotics will make it harder and more expensive to address drug resistance in the future,” said Beth P. Bell, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. “Drug resistance can undermine both our ability to fight infectious diseases and much of modern medicine.”

3.Enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68) is a previously rare virus mostly affecting American children, and is particularly severe in children with asthma. CDC’s intense investigations into EV-D68 have been sped by a CDC-developed rapid lab test that can for detect the virus. “When rare or uncommon viruses suddenly begin causing severe illness, CDC works quickly to develop diagnostic tests to enhance our response and investigations,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., Assistant Surgeon General and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

4.Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), a new viral respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, showed a dramatic increase in cases during 2014. “In this interconnected world we live in, we expected MERS-CoV to make its way to the United States. We have been preparing since 2012 for this possibility,” Dr. Frieden said.