On April 8, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in response to the H7N9 influenza outbreak in China. H7N9 is the newest bird flu virus and has killed 8 and infected 20 other individuals in China. No cases have been found outside China, but the global health community, including CDC, is concerned because this is the first time this type of bird flu has been found in humans.
In general, the EOC monitors emergency responses to public health threats and now that the center has been activated, more CDC resources will be devoted to monitoring the H7N9 outbreak. The EOC will provide “resources, logistical support and avenues of communication with international partners that make management of the situation easier.” The CDC is working closely with Chinese authorities, who have responded to the situation quickly and efficiently. Domestically, the CDC is modifying test kits to easily identify to the virus and issuing guidance to U.S. clinicians and public health departments on how to test for the virus.
In addition to the EOC response, the CDC is working on a vaccine for this new bird flu strain. Although there is no evidence yet that the virus can be spread from person to person, the CDC is doing everything in its power to monitor the situation and prepare for a possible pandemic. The CDC is an invaluable international leader in this arena and it is crucial they are given adequate resources in order to protect our health.
-Morgan McCloskey, global health intern