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CDC Funding Doubles Number of US Prevention Epicenters

New funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week has more than doubled the number of CDC Prevention Epicenters. Six new American academic institutions join the five existing epicenters working to discover new ways to protect patients from dangerous pathogens.

CDC awarded a total of $11 million to the six academic institutions to identify possible new and improved ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola in health care facilities. The goal is to help doctors and nurses better protect the health and safety of their patients — and each other — from high-risk disease threats.

The additional institutions funded to identify infectious disease-related innovations from 2015 to 2018 are Emory University, The Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Iowa, University of Maryland-Baltimore and the University of Utah.

The new Prevention Epicenters will focus on projects that prevent the spread of infectious pathogens in health care facilities, including the Ebola virus; evaluate best approaches to using personal protective equipment; and study novel approaches to minimizing the role of the health care environment in pathogenic transmission.

CDC’s existing Prevention Epicenters are Cook County Health & Hospital System and Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and University of California, University of Pennsylvania and Washington University.

The spread of infectious diseases in health care settings is a problem in the United States, adding billions of dollars to health care costs. Infectious diseases like influenza, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and C. difficile (C. diff), can spread when infection control measures are insufficient or if prevention recommendations are not followed.

“Through the Prevention Epicenters Program, academic leaders in health care epidemiology can work together and with CDC to innovate and stay ahead of the spread of germs,” said Dr. John A. Jernigan, director of the Office of Prevention Research and Evaluation within CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “This program allows us to work closely with leading academic researchers to find out how to better reduce the risk of health care-associated infections and improve patient safety.”

The knowledge created through CDC’s Prevention Epicenters Program, which began in 1997, has resulted in important health care improvements.

For example, demonstrating that use of skin antiseptics and nasal decolonization for all intensive care unit patients on arrival led to 40 percent fewer infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, which is a type of staph bacteria resistant to many antibiotics.

In addition, designing an effective prevention package for long-term acute care hospitals to stop the spread of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a major drug-resistant threat, cut CRE bloodstream infections by 56 percent.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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