Mobile Version - July - August, 2017

From the Director Dr. Jonathan Mermin

The opioid epidemic has led to massive numbers of overdose deaths – over 50,000 a year – and new cases of infectious diseases. Since 2000, there has been a 200% increase in the rate of drug overdose deaths involving opioids. The increase in opioid use has also led to a 2.9-fold increase in acute HCV cases since 2011 and a 21% increase in acute HBV cases since 2014. The vast majority of these cases are due to needle and syringe sharing during injection drug use (IDU). HIV infection for people who inject drugs (PWID) increased 4% in 2015; the first time in 20 years, due mostly to one county in rural Indiana where more than 200 IDU-associated cases of HIV were diagnosed in 2015, most co-infected with hepatitis C. Many counties across the United States are vulnerable to similar outbreaks, but these are preventable. We can prevent drug use; implement syringe service programs; ensure access to medication-assisted substance use treatment, naloxone, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); provide HIV and viral hepatitis testing and treatment; and encourage physicians to offer safer and more effective pain treatment. A public health response that includes these elements and involves people at the community, state, and federal levels working together can prevent overdoses and infections and ensure the safety and health of all Americans.

2015 Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report

CDC recently released the full 2015 Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report. The report includes data about those newly infected with viral hepatitis, persons living with viral hepatitis, and deaths associated with viral hepatitis. In 2015, the number of reported cases of hepatitis A increased 12.2% to 1,390 cases; the number of reported cases of acute hepatitis B increased 20.7% to 3,370 cases and the number of reported acute hepatitis C cases was 2,436, representing a more than 2.9-fold increase in cases from 2010 through 2015. The increase in acute hepatitis C case reports reflects new infections associated with rising rates of injection drug use. Limitations in hepatitis surveillance, however, result in underreporting of the annual number of hepatitis B and C virus cases. CDC's estimates that consider underreporting indicate that new hepatitis C infections in 2015 were as high as 34,000 cases.

Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea

CDC is committed to preventing drug-resistant gonorrhea, which includes raising awareness about a critical, yet not often discussed public health issue. To help in this effort, CDC created a video animation that illustrates gonorrhea's history of overpowering almost every drug ever used to treat it, the current battles we face as the bacterium evolves, and the dangers of this common infection becoming untreatable. CDC has also released the 2015 Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project (GISP) profiles, which provide the most up-to-date national and local CDC antimicrobial susceptibility data for gonorrhea. These data are pivotal to monitoring for emerging resistance, and in turn, ensure CDC can arm healthcare providers with the most effective treatment options. All of us, from health departments to individuals, can make drug resistance a top priority to help keep untreatable gonorrhea from becoming a reality.