Four outta eight aint bad — unless, of course, it’s your score on a test that tells how well-prepared you are for an infectious disease outbreak. That was Nevada’s result on a recent report by nonprofit Trust for America’s Health, titled Outbreaks 2015: Protecting Americans from Infectious Disease.
The researchers looked at policies and investments in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to evaluate their ability to detect, diagnose and respond to outbreaks of bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases — everything from flu to salmonella. The underlying goals of the report are to determine how vulnerable the country is to large-scale outbreaks, and make recommendations for improving its preparedness. An auxiliary benefit, the authors argue, is economic, with the flu alone costing $76.7 billion nationwide.
Nevada got points for maintaining or increasing its public health funding; having syringe-exchange programs; providing biosafety training for sentinel labs; and meeting the national targets for food-safety testing. The state lost points for having low flu-vaccination rates; inadequate childhood immunization requirements, HIV/AIDs reporting and plans to mitigate the impact of climate change on human health; and an uptick in hospital infections. With a total four out of eight points, Nevada is on par with eight other states and D.C., but behind 34 other states. The highest scorers were Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Virginia.
The report also covers lessons learned from the recent Ebola and MERS outbreaks, and makes recommendations for improving national preparedness, such as increasing resources to modernize facilities, developing science-based policies and supporting countermeasure research.