American Public Health Association
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For Immediate Release
For more information, please contact APHA Communications at (202) 777-2509 or mediarelations@apha.org .

APHA says Salmonella outbreak raises grave concerns about government shutdown

Statement from Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, on CDC recall of furloughed workers to respond to disease outbreak

Washington, D.C., Oct. 9, 2013 — “The outbreak of Salmonella that has led to nearly 300 illnesses in 18 states, including 76 hospitalizations, is a grim reminder of the dangers that foodborne diseases present. Only today, our frontline workers — who protect the health of all of us — are hamstrung by the shutdown of the federal government.

“Diseases do not respect government shutdowns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to recall 30 furloughed workers this week to help handle the multi-state outbreak. While I applaud the agency’s decision and quick response, these key staff will now be playing catch-up thanks to the government shutdown.”

“In response to the shutdown, the U.S. House of Representatives continues the folly of a piecemeal approach to funding the government. Last week they approved funding for the National Institutes of Health. This week they approved funding for the Food and Drug Administration. Yet they haven’t approved funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our leading public health agency. Nor have they approved funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is central to the disease investigation.

“While NIH and FDA perform critical, life-saving functions, all of these agencies do, and they work in a coordinated fashion, relying on shared expertise and resources to protect the health of our nation.

“This Salmonella outbreak is the latest twist in a dangerous game of chicken playing out on Capitol Hill.

“The American Public Health Association urges an immediate end to the federal government shutdown with a comprehensive approach to funding all public health agencies. We also urge an end to the senseless cuts to nondefense discretionary programs through sequestration that seriously jeopardize the capacity of our nation’s public health agencies to protect our health.”

For more on the outbreak, including guidance for consumers, see USDA’s public health alert at http://goo.gl/113YkP.

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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.