The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the episode where a man with tuberculosis traveled across the country posing a threat to others is rare. Doctor Julie Gerberding says there have been 72,000 cases of tuberculosis diagnosed since she took her position at the C-D-C.
Gerberding says she’s only had to issue a federal isolation order once in the five years, and one of the lessons learned is that there needs to be a "covenant of trust" between health care providers and their patients. And she says once the covenant has been broken, "we all have to be prepare to act much more swiftly to initiate the kinds of isolation and quarantine authorities that are necessary to protect the public."
Gerberding spoke to the governor’s Barn Raising symposium on public health, and says the tuberculosis case shows the need for communication. Gerberding says there needs to be seamless communication across jurisdictions from the county, to state to federal officials in a single momentum across the network to avoid the late or ineffective action that happened in this case. Gerberding says all agencies have to continually work to keep the communication going.
Gerberding says the Des Moines symposium is exciting, because it is about creating networks and making it easier to communicate when there’s a problem. Gerberding also talked about the recent food borne illness outbreaks surrounding spinach and peanut butter. She believes federal officials did a good job in identifying and handling them.
Gerberding says they all hope though to be able to do things faster and more effectively, but she says that’s becoming more of a challenge as we eat more global food. Gerberding says they’re working to keep the food system safe as the globalization increases.
"Right now we have the burden of solving this problem for other countries in addition to our own," Gerberding says, "and part of what we’re working on is how can we teach people in other countries, a sustainable way of doing this capability for themselves." The governor’s conference takes place every two years and is being held this year at Drake University in Des Moines.