November 28, 2014

Report: Iowa could be better prepared to battle superbugs & the flu

Iowa ranks in the middle of the pack in a report that rates the states’ ability to prevent, control and treat outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Rich Hamburg, deputy director of the Trust for America’s Health, says the study finds many gaps in efforts to keep ahead of so-called superbugs, salmonella, the seasonal flu and more.

“Iowa received five out of ten points on this report,” Hamburg says. “What we’ve seen is that a majority of states scored five or lower out of ten possible points.”

Iowa’s among 14 states with that half-and-half rating. Among the areas where the report found Iowa lacking, the state does not cover routine H-I-V screening under Medicaid. Iowa also doesn’t mandate that health care facilities report infections.

On the plus side, he says Iowa is proactive in educating the public about the HPV vaccine for teens and didn’t cut the level of funding for public health services in the past fiscal year.

Hamburg says, “Iowa and the other states are addressing some of the policies that need to be addressed in order to be more adequately prepared to respond to and prevent infectious diseases but there’s still a long way to go.”

In one area where the state was lacking, the report says Iowa failed to meet the recommendations of having most young children, between 19 and 35 months, vaccinated against whooping cough.

“The Centers for Disease Control recommends a 90% rate of vaccination,” Hamburg says. “Iowa had 88.2% so it didn’t receive a point on the report.”

The CDC also recommends a state vaccinate at least 50% of its population for influenza. Iowa had 50.4% vaccinated for the flu, so it met the recommendation, but just barely.

While Iowa scored five out of ten on the report, as did most states, the highest-ranked state was New Hampshire with eight out of ten, and three states only scored two out of ten — Georgia, Nebraska and New Jersey.

See the full report at: www.healthyamericans.org