The nation's first government shutdown in 17 years could have major impacts on the nation's ability to prepare for and respond to disease threats such as the approaching flu season and new viruses overseas such as H7N9 influenza and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), according to federal contingency plans.
Negotiations on a budget to fund the federal government ground to a halt overnight over disagreements in Congress about language meant to delay the Affordable Care Act. The impact on federal public health and food safety agencies was quickly seen this morning, as red-box banners went up on Web sites warning that updates would be limited, information could be out of date, and inquiries could go unanswered.
Shutdown shutters flu surveillance, limits outbreak detection
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) activities to protect citizens in the United States and abroad will continue at minimal levels, and its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) warned that the shutdown will significantly reduce its ability to respond to outbreak investigations, process laboratory samples, and maintain its around-the-clock emergency operations center.
Barbara Reynolds, PhD, who directs the CDC's division of public affairs, told CIDRAP News yesterday that, of the agency's 13,000 employees in the states and abroad, about 4,000 will remain working. She said that group includes 3,000 workers who are in the Commissioned Corps or are working in programs that are supported outside of the 2014 appropriations process.If a 15-year-old girl were behaving in this self-destructive way, we could at least call for some kind social assistance to keep her from killing herself. But what do you do do when social assistance itself has been shut down?