A report by non-profit Trust for America’s Health warns the United States is not prepared for attacks of agroterrorism or foodborne, animal-borne or water-borne diseases. The report cited federal, state and local funding cuts for public health as partially responsible for that vulnerability.

The report identified gaps in the public health workforce, the healthcare system’s ability to accommodate a massive surge in patients, the ability to react quickly to a bioterrorism or disease outbreak, adequate surveillance for quick reaction, the ability to work across communities, as well as adequate vaccine and pharmaceutical research, development and manufacturing.
The report’s key findings included:

  • 21 states were not able to rapidly identify disease-causing E.coli O157:H7 and submit the laboratory results in 90 percent of cases within four days in 2007/2008.
  • 33 states and Washington, D.C., cut funding for public health in fiscal year 2009/2010.
  • Seven states cannot currently share data electronically with health care providers.
  • 10 states do not have an electronic syndromic surveillance system that can report and exchange information.
  • Six states reported that pre-identified staff were unable to acknowledge notification of emergency exercises or incidents within the target time of 60 minutes at least twice during 2007/2008.
  • Six states did not activate their emergency operations center a minimum of two times in 2007/2008.
  • Two states did not develop at least two After-Action Report/Improvement Plans after exercises or real incidents in 2007/2008.
  • 25 states do not mandate all licensed child-care facilities have a multi-hazard written evacuation and relocation plan.
  • Three states and Washington, D.C., report not having enough staffing capacity to work five, 12-hour days for six to eight weeks in response to an infectious disease outbreak, such as Novel H1N1 influenza virus.
  • One state decreased its Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats (LRN-C) chemical capability from Aug.10, 2009 to Aug. 9, 2010.

For more on the report, go to http://healthyamericans.org/assets/files/TFAH2010ReadyorNot%20FINAL.pdf.