Tag Archives: Hurricane Sandy

Research!America and Partners Salute Public Health Heroes as Recent Health Threats Affect Many Communities

Public Health Thank You Day, November 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC—November 15, 2012—On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Research!America and leading U.S. public health organizations  recognize public health professionals who work tirelessly every day to protect the health of all Americans.

Public Health Thank You Day 2012 honors all those unsung heroes who keep our drinking water safe and air clean, develop vaccines, track and contain deadly illnesses  and aid victims of devastating natural disasters. These everyday heroes include health inspectors, environmental health scientists, public health researchers, sanitation workers and many other dedicated workers.

“In recent weeks, the nation’s public health response has been put to a tremendous test. First, with the multistate meningitis outbreak that resulted in both illnesses and deaths, followed closely by Hurricane Sandy, which had a devastating impact on much of the Northeastern United States,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Thomas R. Frieden MD, MPH. “These public health emergencies highlight the dedication of our public health heroes and responders.  As we observe Public Health Thank You Day, I am deeply grateful for their commitment, preparedness and constant vigilance to stand ready to keep our nation safe from public health threats.

In the recent meningitis outbreak, the CDC played a critical role identifying possible sources of contamination, tracking cases and communicating updates to citizens. During the height of Hurricane Sandy, the CDC provided emergency assistance and medical care to those affected, including food and water, medical supplies to prevent and treat injuries, clean-up and sanitation and mental health resources.

“On this special day let’s thank all of those heroes who work nonstop in often perilous conditions to ensure the health and well-being of their neighbors and all Americans,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “As we recover from the meningitis outbreak and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, more than ever we see the value of a strong investment in public health. American taxpayers get their money’s worth from supporting the CDC and its initiatives to fight and prevent health threats.”

Research!America’s Public Health Thank You Day partners include the Campaign for Public Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association, Association of Schools of Public Health, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, National Association of County & City Health Officials, and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

Organizations wishing to celebrate Public Health Thank You Day can find downloadable web banners and ads, communication tools, poll findings and a Facebook group at www.publichealththankyouday.org.

Research!America is the nation’s largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, it is supported by member organizations that represent more than 125 million Americans. For more information, visit www.researchamerica.org.

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Climate Change May Increase Threat of NTDs in the U.S.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy has prompted a renewed discussion about climate change. Political leaders and climate scientists alike have raised concerns about the relationship between global warming and an increase in the number of extreme weather events. In addition to these concerns, climate change may also increase the threat of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) here in the U.S. NTD transmission depends heavily on environmental conditions and warming temperatures may increase the severity or change the patterns of these diseases.

For example, funded by a grant from the Department of Defense, researchers at Texas Tech determined that climate change will allow dengue to thrive in the U.S. Historically found only in tropical regions, rising temperatures will allow the range of dengue-infected mosquitoes to shift north, increasing the risk of dengue within the continental U.S. We may already be seeing the first evidence of this shift – three cases of dengue fever have been reported in Florida in the past few weeks. Similarly, climate change is one suspected culprit in this year’s West Nile outbreak, as CDC officials note that unusually warm weather in 2012 may have played a role.

However, additional research is necessary to fully understand the impact of climate change on the range and transmission of NTDs. Even experts in the field have called for more research into the issue, arguing that “not enough attention is being paid to climate change in relation to NTD control.” They recommend improving NTD surveillance systems and increasing investment in field research, which will not only allow for the establishment of more effective NTD control programs worldwide, but will help the U.S.  better understand and protect against these diseases here at home.

-Morgan McCloskey, global health intern