Infectious diseases were major public health concern in 2013
Influenza killed 169 children
New strain of bird flu not easily transmittable from human to human
Besides infectious diseases, mental health and trans fats also concern
Infectious diseases were a major concern during 2013. The telltale sign was the plethora of articles dedicated to infectious diseases. Beyond this concern, there was an increase in concern over mental health care due to the Newtown school tragedy. With no breakthrough in medications or other treatments for diseases, it appears that public health was an important concern throughout 2013.
One of the most common infectious diseases, influenza, hit early this year. Of the 32 million Americans who reportedly fell ill to influenza, 169 children died, and 381,000 people were hospitalized.
“The past year reminded us that flu really has unparalleled potential to do great harm,” says CDC director Thomas Frieden. “It reminded us that we are all connected by the air we breathe.”
A new strain of bird flu was added to the list of infectious diseases to worry about. Most occurrences of this strain were directly related to poultry, and were also mostly severe. This infectious disease reportedly is not easily transmittable from person to person as of yet.
There were two universities, University of California-Santa Barbara and Princeton University, that suffered outbreaks of bacterial meningitis. One of the students infected had both feet amputated due to the infection. This strain of meningococcal bacteria was not included in the standard vaccine.
Other concerns aside from infectious diseases were mental health care, food-borne illness, the legitimacy of dietary supplements, and growing concern over trans fats.
Due to the mass shooting in Newtown, 36 states and the District of Columbia increased funding for mental health care. In December, the White House announced $100 million in federal funding. Additionally, final rules were implemented ensuring that health insurance plans provide equal care for physical and mental health.
In October, a particularly antibiotic-resistant salmonella outbreak began to spread across 23 states, sickening more than 416 people thus far. The outbreak is linked to Foster Farms brand chicken.
Finally, in November, the FDA announced its plans to remove trans fats from our food once and for all. “Removing trans fats could save up to 7,000 lives and prevent up to 21,000 heart attacks a year,” Frieden says.