Tag Archives: Ebola

A Tale of Two Epidemics

AIDS Ebola

Wake me up when there are more actual cases of Ebola infections in the United States than there are chattering heads on television screens launching uninformed speculative comments.  All this palaver might serve a purpose (other than generating ratings) if it weren’t composed of, and targeted toward, the intellectually disenfranchised.

We’ve seen all this before – Swine Flu, Bird Flu, MERS, SARS – each one a Threat to Humanity! Like never before. Like nothing we’ve ever seen. Except we have. It was AIDS.

By the end of 1981 there were 159 cases of AIDS recorded in the United States, it wasn’t until 1982 with 771 cases reported and 618 deaths that the CDC labeled the disease AIDS and associated it with male homosexuality, intravenous drug use, Haitian origin, and hemophilia A.  The CDC didn’t add women as being a group at risk until 1983, and cautioned blood banks that there might be a problem.  By then 2807 cases had been reported, and 2118 deaths were associated with the disease.

No one was screeching about the need for an AIDS Czar in 1984, and no one was calling for the government to “move faster.” But 7,239 cases were recorded, there were 5,596 deaths, and one Congressional hearing.

In 1985 we were introduced to the tragic story of Ryan White, who was barred from attending school in his Indiana home town. The Department of Defense announced it would screen recruits for AIDS, and actor Elizabeth Tayler, Dr. Michael Gottlieb, and Dr. Mathilde Brim announced the creation of the American Foundation for AID Research in September. There were 15,527 cases reported, and 12,529 deaths.

It wasn’t until 1986 that the U.S. Surgeon General called for a comprehensive program of sex and AIDS education, and more information on condom use. 1986 was also the year in which the National Institutes of Health planned the formation of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group.  Dr. Krim and Elizabeth Taylor testified before Congress about the need for clinical research, accelerated research, and more timely access to experimental HIV/AIDS medication.  In 1986 there were 28,712 cases reported, and 24,559 deaths.

“And the Band Played On” was published in 1987 while the FDA finally allowed condom manufacturers to advertise that the use of their product would reduce the possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS.  50,378 cases were reported, and 40,849 deaths.  In 1988 the federal government finally responded with legislation – the HOPE Act, during that year there were 82,362 cases and 61,816 deaths.  At the end of 1989 there were 117,508 cases of AIDS, and 89,343 deaths.  The numbers were worse in 1990, 160,969 reported cases, and 120,453 deaths.  1991, 206,563 cases, with 156,143 deaths.  Fast forward to another bad year, 1995 with 513,486 cases reported and 319,849 deaths, however the research funded earlier is beginning to pay off in terms of therapeutic drugs and better prevention education.  As of 2011 there were approximately 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV/AIDs and more than 33 million living with the disease in other parts of the world. [AmFar]

There’s been enough hyper-partisanship about the way the Reagan Administration handled the AID epidemic. However, the President was not one to discuss it publicly – not until a September 17, 1985 press conference. There are conflicting stories about whether Reagan moved Koop to speak out, or if it were the other way round.  Democrats in Congress did manage to move the money, from $8 million in research funding in 1982 to $26.5 million in 1983 bumped up to $44 million, and more during the remainder of the decade.  [RCP]   What can be said with some certainty is that the Reagan Administration was painfully slow in addressing the calamity that was HIV/AIDS, and did not adopt a leadership role until late in 1985, some four years after the disease was first noted (1981).

The national media and D.C. press corps weren’t helpful either – Chris Geidner notes 13 instances researched by Jon Cohen during which the press corps erupted in laughter at insensitive comments made from the podium by White House Spokesperson Larry Speakes beginning in  October 15, 1982.

Myth Making

It doesn’t take too many little gray cells to figure out why conservatives are so adamant about “blaming the Ebola crisis” on the current President.  To discuss the executive branch reactions to a public health problem invites comparison to the Reagan years, and the comparison doesn’t polish the lustrous image of the the conservative President.

The Congress passed a budget in January 2014 which severely constrained the budgets for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, calling for across the board cuts in spending – including research on the Ebola virus. [CNNOn March 23, 2014 Officials in Guinea confirmed 49 cases of Ebola infection, and by March 31 Ebola infections were at an epidemic level. As of May 2014 cases are reported in Liberia, and by the end of the month cases are confirmed in Sierra Leone. [NHReg]

On August 8, 2014 the World Health Organization issued a full-on warning about the spread of the Ebola virus in west Africa, saying, among other warnings, that the infections constituted an “extraordinary event,” and a public health risk to other countries.

The Obama Administration’s response in this instance is to be measured in days, not years. On August 5, 2014 the CDC issued a Level 2 travel alert for travelers to Nigeria, and a Level 3 travel alert notice remained in effect for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. [CDC]  The agency had also deployed health professionals to the affected area as of August 4th – 6 to Guinea, 12 to Liberia, 4 to Nigeria, and 9 to Sierra Leone.  The CDC also initiated the use of the Epi-Info software tool to determine “contact tracing” to break the chain of transmission. [CDC]  By September 17th the President announced that 3,000 troops would be sent to Liberia to establish a command center to oversee the construction of 17 health care facilities of 100 beds each to isolate and treat victims. The U.S. mission would also be tasked with training 500 health care workers per week. [VOA]

By October 22nd the Administration had launched the deployment of 170 medical professionals from multiple agencies and departments, some of whom were part of the USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team to the core of the epidemic area in west Africa; had scaled up the deployment of DoD teams including members from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center to operate three mobile laboratories providing 24 hour turnaround results on samples.  The Administration had obligated $300 million for fighting the outbreak in west Africa, including funds for the construction of one hospital completed and staffed by U.S. Public Health Service officers.  The efforts also included initiating 65 “safe burial teams” to help Liberians facing the epidemic.  [WH]

The conservative response to these measures was quick and predictable.  One opinion given much air time was that the mission to Liberia wasn’t a legitimate military operation in the commonly held sense of the term, and therefore beyond the scope of “fighting and winning wars.” Another complaint was that the Commander in Chief was sending soldiers, “valuable highly trained war-fighters” just to support health care workers. And, then there was the “why are we sending troops over there when we should be doing something here,” complaint – missing the point that this was precisely the argument for sending more troops to the Middle East in 2003. [MMA]

Meanwhile on the Home Front

Speaking of the domestic front – In March 2014, the Republicans in the U.S. Senate balked at the nomination of Dr. Vivek H. Murthy to be the Surgeon General because the doctor had run afoul of Chris Cox, the head lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.  Dr. Murthy’s experience in hospital emergency rooms caused him to believe that assault weapons do serious damage to human bodies, and that limiting ammunition sales might reduce the number of such fatalities and serious injuries. [NYT]  Right wing pundits called for the “immediate withdrawal of the nomination” in October 2014, so an “experienced professional” could be considered. [PJM]  The ever-media-seeking Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) dismissed Murthy’s nomination saying, “And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist,” which got an immediate smack down from Politifact.

While the obstructionists in the Senate blocked the nomination, the CDC was adjusting its guideline and issued revised, or “interim,” guidance for hospitals dealing with Ebola infections on August 8, 2014.  The August interim guidance sounds predictive in the case of the Texas hospital which later experienced infections:

“It emphasized that anyone collecting or handling such specimens are to follow standards compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration bloodborne pathogens standards, including wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and implementing other safeguards.

For specimen collection and laboratory testing, PPE recommendations include full face shield or goggles, masks to cover all of the nose and mouth, gloves and fluid-resistant or impermeable gowns. For laboratory testing, the recommendations also include use of a certified class II biosafety cabinet or plexiglass splash guard.”

Politics and Protocols

The CDC tightened the guidelines further, issuing revised guidance to health care workers and hospitals on October 20, 2014.  It also provided more stringent guidance for travel and airline operations, and prospective patient monitoring.

Back in the Senate, Arizona Senator John McCain issued a call for an “Ebola Czar” to coordinate the response to the cases on U.S. soil on October 12-13th. [Hill]  This would be the self-same Senator who decried the Administration’s appointment of “more czars than the Romanoffs.” [HuffPo]  The nomination of Surgeon General Murthy was still the subject of a Republican filibuster.  No sooner than President Obama had appointed an experienced administrator, Ron Klain, an individual with a solid reputation for dealing with complex bureaucratic issues, [CNN] than the GOP lambasted the appointment as “tone deaf and insensitive,” whatever that might mean; and, Senator Cruz criticized the appointment of anyone. [CNN]  The nomination of the Surgeon General nominee remains in Senate limbo.

All this partisan bickering was highlighted by the October 23rd performance of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) who announced that the Surgeon General needs to be in charge of the efforts to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, evidently unaware that his GOP colleagues in the Senate were filibustering the nomination of Dr. Murthy. [HuffPo]

While the Republicans squabbled over who should be appointed to what if anyone should be appointed to anything – the Administration continued to ramp up the coordination of public health efforts.

In addition to increasing the stringency of screening measures and travel restrictions,  activating post arrival monitoring, tightening CDC health care protocols, the Administration approved the creation of a Dedicated Response Team to be assigned to any hospital that receives a confirmed case of Ebola, a “Lessons Learned” training and outreach program based on what occurred in Texas, a Northern Command 30 person short notice assistance team to provide service to civilian medical professionals, and the offering of FEMA coordination for federal assistance to meet “needs on the ground.” [WHFS]

Now, imagine what might have been different if the Reagan Administration had adopted the same robust response to those first 159 cases of AIDS in 1981? Little wonder the conservatives are cranky.

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Fear mongering is hazardous to our health

Halloween Mask Finally, a headline making some sense: “Washoe health official: Worry about the flu not Ebola.”

“(Washoe County Health Officer) Dick said the “media barrage and sensationalism has frightened people,” emphasizing that medical responders are the ones who need to be trained and prepared.

“We are straining resources across my agency and the hospitals are ramping up and getting prepared for the training and drilling,” Dick said. “The community can help by getting a flu shot and not showing up at the emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms.”

That’s right – FLU – good old fashioned influenza.  And, no, we don’t have exact figures on the numbers of people in the United States who succumb to influenza each year because (1) the states aren’t required to report such cases in individuals over the age of 18; (2) the disease isn’t noted on death certificates very often; and (3) death may result from associated illnesses such as bacterial pneumonia well after the flu infection. [CDC] The CDC can offer some context, and report from 2012 studies that there are about 1,532 deaths from influenza a year, and that about 45.2% of youngsters 6 months to 17 years old have gotten a flu shot, while only about 26.3% of adults 18-49 have done so.  Adults 50-64 have a better rate, at 42.7%, and those over 65 have a 66.5% vaccination rate.  [CDC]

If these figures say anything, it’s that we’re less likely to get flu from those little Germ Bags who crawl on carpeting or share the contents of soda pop cans with alarming alacrity than we are from the “adults” in the room – except for Granny, who’s on Medicare and gets her flu shot without a hassle.

And here’s the part where the Affordable Care Act comes into play.

If a family enrolled in a new health care insurance plan on or after September 23, 2010 the plan will be required to cover recommended vaccinations without charging a deductible, copayment, or coinsurance.  This means FLU shots.  [HHS]

The CDC provides a schedule of vaccinations adults should receive, which is available in almost any format from PDF to an app for your Smartphone.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, influenza, tetanus, etc. vaccinations must be covered in comprehensive health insurance plans. Now, does anyone want to discuss “repealing the Affordable Care Act?”

And here’s the part wherein pure stupidity comes into play.

There were school closings and/or panics in Texas, Ohio, and Maine… because “Ebola.” [NYT] [Denver]  It seems a teacher from beautiful downtown Strong, Maine (Google that one) went to a conference in Dallas, Texas and has been asked to take a 21 day paid leave of absence. Let’s review. The immediate family of the man who died from the disease in Dallas has been cleared, having passed the time limit without infection – so a teacher who attended a conference across town is on leave?

There are continuous calls for a travel ban with west Africa. Which goes nowhere toward explaining why a musical group from Kenya (EAST Africa!) had a U.S. performance cancelled. Actually, the travel ban blather says more about the intrinsic American problem locating anything or anyone on a map than about a sentient reaction to a world health problem.

We’re going to stop flights from Freetown, Sierra Leone? What flights from Freetown?  The flights go through Casablanca (Morocco) and Brussels (Belgium) [VSL.org] Or, stop flights to and from Monrovia, Liberia?  Flights from Monrovia, Liberia to New York make stops in Casablanca, Montreal, Paris, and  Madrid [TripAdv]  A “flight ban” makes absolutely no sense – unless it’s being advocated that we stop flights from Brussels, Casablanca, Montreal, Paris, and Madrid.

What we could do instead of getting all panicky?

#1. Provide funding for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research into the Ebola disease (and others) and increase funding for programs which improve local and state emergency preparedness, for both natural and man-made disasters.

#2. Stop worrying about who the “czar” is …and start worrying about when the Senate of the U.S. might confirm the next Surgeon General. 

#3. Provide funding for medical relief activities in countries such as Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, which will help curb the disease in place.

#4. Get a flu shot and don’t run to the ER with the sniffles.

#5. Vote for candidates who promise to do numbers 1-3.

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Republicans are a Public Health Hazard

 

Health Hazard

Just Saying… Nevada early voting begins on October 18, 2014. Register, and vote.

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A Virus Could Ask Better Questions?

TV Set 1 I get the part wherein cable news needs ratings to sell advertising, although exactly how much revenue can be accumulated from purveyors of unregulated supplements, interesting but not likely remunerative litigation, and vehicle insurance is beyond me.  So, the coverage of the ebola outbreak in western Africa isn’t surprising – it’s the Lost Airplane of the Day.  What is alarming is the lack of substance, and I’m thinking of the CNN broadcast in which a novelist is foisted off on the public as an expert on viral transmission.   Amid all the hysteria, we’re missing some important points.

What is the state of our medical research? What happened to our “stable research support trajectory? Instead of being entertained by the musings of a science fiction novelist, perhaps we could be hearing more from medical experts?  Say, from the National Institutes of Health?

“Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”  [HuffPo]

Why is the National Institutes of Health purchasing power down 23% from ten years ago? Or,  why does the following situation hold in terms of funding for research into infectious diseases?

“In fiscal year 2004, the agency’s budget was $28.03 billion. In FY 2013, it was $29.31 billion — barely a change, even before adjusting for inflation. The situation is even more pronounced at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subdivision of NIH, where the budget has fallen from $4.30 billion in FY 2004 to $4.25 billion in FY 2013.” [HuffPo]

We’ve endured a “ten year slide in research support,” meaning that we’ve not invested enough since 2004 to keep on track to provide pharmaceuticals and other research related to diseases such as that caused by the Ebola virus. Could it be that in the last ten years there has been a steady drum beat of opposition to federal funding … for almost anything? 

Our very own Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) announced back in January 2013 that federal spending was out of control, and Congress “hasn’t had the courage to fix it.”  In December 2013 he was pleased as punch with the Budget Act which cut federal funding, saying:

“This two year agreement moves us away from government by crisis and continuing resolutions, where so much of the status quo persists, and back to a legislative framework for reforming federal spending. It cuts the budget deficit by $23 billion without raising taxes at a time when the Senate wanted to increase spending by $1 trillion. It is 100 percent in line with the Budget Control Act deficit reduction numbers and does not end the sequester cuts, but replaces upfront, across-the-board cuts with targeted savings that are both larger and produce additional deficit reduction over the long term. The agreement is also $83 billion below the original Ryan Budget (2010) target for FY 2014.”

His current official website tells us:

“As a fiscal conservative, I believe that our nation’s deficit is out of control. We now borrow 42 cents for every dollar we spend. The bloated federal government spends some of that money on frivolous projects that benefit only a select group of special interests and other needless expenses.”

Now, in light of that ten year slide in appropriations for the National Institutes of Health, and the loss of the “stable research support trajectory,” can Representative Amodei still justify the reduction in NIH funding?  It isn’t like the NIH didn’t advertise what was going to happen under the terms of the budget act Representative Amodei was applauding:

“On March 1, 2013, as required by statute, President Obama signed an order initiating sequestration. The sequestration requires NIH to cut 5 percent or $1.55 billion of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. NIH must apply the cut evenly across all programs, projects, and activities (PPAs), which are primarily NIH institutes and centers. This means every area of medical research will be affected.” [NIH]  (emphasis added)

Yes, “every area of medical research will be affected,” and that included the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subdivision of the National Institutes of Health.   Remember that Government Shutdown in October 2013?  Not only did clinical trials get shut down at the CDC, but so did the processing of laboratory samples. [MedNewsToday]   All this makes a sentient person wonder how much more “reforming the budget” we can stand?

What is the status of our prevention and control capacity?  There’s a penchant on the right to try to attach the “sequester” to the President as if the budget he signed hadn’t been enacted by the Congress in 2013.  For those functioning in the real world,  it’s no secret that the Congress slashed funding for the CDC emergency preparedness program. [Vox]  Again, the CDC announced well in advance what the sequester cuts would do.

About $195 million was cut from “emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases,” another $19 million was cut from “public health scientific services,” also cut was $18 million from “global health” categories, and another $98 million from “public health preparedness and response” programs.  [CDC pdf]

$160 million less would be available in funding to on the ground public health in the United States, “a system already strained by state and local budget cuts.”  A further $33 million was cut from “state and local preparedness ability to respond to natural and man-made disasters.” [CDC pdf]

Do we have an institutional structure in place to enforce CDC guidelines on public health matters?   The CDC has issued guidelines for EMT responders in the wake of Ebola illness, now we have to ask, how are the guidelines to be implemented?  How are CDC guidelines to be implemented in hospital settings?   What the CDC issues are recommendations – what the privately owned hospitals actually DO is up to the administration and leadership in those hospitals.  And, now we get to the part where the people at ground zero are involved. 

The California Nurses Association surveyed its members and found that some were working in hospitals lacking “necessary protective equipment, such as HAZMAT suits, face shields, and fluid resistant suits and gowns.” Some also reported inadequate training on how to deal with Ebola, for example being given a video to watch without any hands-on, personal, training or rehearsals.  [CNA]

Obviously, those attending to patients with Ebola or SARS would need to use “Full Barrier” personal protective equipment, so the next obvious question should be – Does each local hospital, especially those in metropolitan areas served by international transportation hubs, have the Full Barrier PPEs, and have those who need them been trained in their use? And this state of affairs leads to yet another question.

What level of de-regulation in health care can we tolerate in order to provide the best public health services?    The NIH can research, and the CDC may recommend to their collective hearts content – but if the House of Representatives had its way every regulation would be scrutinized by Congress to see if it impinged in any way on the profitability of the health care provider.

When the House passed the REINS Act in 2013 language was added to require Congressional approval on health care related rules, in an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). [Hill]  Representative Amodei (R-NV2) and Heck (R-NV3) both voted in favor of the REINS Act, including as it did, the provision requiring Congressional approval of health care related regulations.  [vote 445]  Representative Titus (D-NV1) had the common sense to vote nay.  Worse still, for those who believe that hospitals should be required to act with some uniformity during a public health crisis, both Representatives Amodei and Heck voted in favor of the Smith Amendment. [vote 438]  Again, Representative Titus had the foresight to vote nay.

Not to put too fine a point to it, but Representatives Heck and Amodei voted in favor of a provision which would prevent the implementation of standards for isolation care and personal protective equipment/training if the hospitals could show that such regulations diminished their profitability.  Not only did Representative Amodei vote in favor of the Smith Amendment, and vote in favor of the REINS Act, he was one of the 164 co-sponsors.  The bill was sent to the Senate wherein it was, thankfully, buried in the files of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

In the instance of H.R. 367 (113th) nothing could be a better example of putting profits before people, especially considering the attachment of the Smith Amendment.

Our media would serve us far better if we were to be given background information on how our government and health care institutions could better protect us from – Ebola, MERS, SARS, Norovirus, drug resistant strains of bacteria, etc. and how funding priorities relate to national, state, and local preparedness.   It would beat listening to a novelist, a pundit, or some lady with a Ouija Board.

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Please Excuse Me If I Don’t Panic

ebola isis If It Bleeds It Leads – and I am getting really tired of cable and network news blathering on about The Next Great Scary Bacteria/Virus.   First, let’s get some perspective – there are an estimated 316,148,990 people in the United States. [Census]

Remember the West Nile Virus?  If memory serves, the media served up mosquito pictures on television screens and print versions ad nauseam not so many years ago.  The largest number of cases occurred in 2003, at 9,862. There were a grand total of 39,557 cases of which only 1,668 were fatal, between 1999 and 2013.    [CDC pdf] Do the arithmetic.  Divide 39,557 by 316,148,990 on your handy plastic calculator.  (Ans: 1.2521 e-4)

Remember SARS?  The coronavirus showed up in 2003.  Lord knows how many “travel alerts” there were, and how many were reported as major news stories.  By April 2003 there were 115 suspected SARS cases in the U.S. reported from 29 states, there were no deaths reported.  By the end of the year the World Health Organization reported 8,096 cases globally, leading to 774 deaths. In the United States there were 8 SARS infections documented by laboratory testing and an additional 19 probable cases. [CDC]  Again, play with the arithmetic problem: Divide 115 by 316,148,990. What are the odds someone will contract SARS?

Now it’s Ebola! A virus which is relatively difficult to contract, but whose photograph graces the pages and screens, along with breathless speculation about how control this “ISIS of Viral Evil.”  Thus far we have 1, repeat ONE, case reported in the United States.  One case, one fatality. And that of a man who sought treatment, was turned away from a hospital in Dallas, TX – which has some explaining to do to his family – and so far that’s IT.

Yes, this is a nasty virus. It is also primarily running rampant in west Africa, a region generally ignored by the U.S. media even when uncivil wars are decimating the populations,  but there’s a reason the medical professionals in the U.S. aren’t panicking like, say CNN, for Faux News, or some  “billionaire with bad hair:”

“It’s important for us to remember here in the US that the likelihood of an outbreak due to bringing back two patients with Ebola virus disease is incredibly small, and that conditions here in the US and other developed nations are such that it is unlikely that such an outbreak, even in the unlikely event that it happened, would spread very far, given the differences in medical care, availability of resources, and differences in funeral practices. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be vigilant, but there is really nothing particularly unusual about Ebola virus other than the rapid onset and severity of the disease it causes.” [SciBMed]

Now, breathe.

Meanwhile —  The CDC reports 11,068 firearm homicides, with a death per 100K of 3.6 [CDC]  The last CDC report showed 39,518 suicides, of which 19,990 were completed with firearms; death per 100K at 12.7. [CDC] Now, if a virus had killed 31,058 people in a single year – that would be a story.  However, we can’t consider the epidemic of gun violence as a public health problem because the GOP controlled House of Representatives refuses a meager $10 million for funding gun violence prevention research. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics begged for the research funding, but Republicans and the NRA said we simply need to “prosecute more people, not carry out more studies.”   [ProPublica]

Meanwhile – Heart disease will kill 596,577 people in the United States, and another 73,831 will die from Diabetes.  So, faced with this obvious public health problem, what did the U.S. Congress do?  Republicans sponsored a bill to roll back school nutrition standards. [MMA] The implications are obvious, Republicans are favoring the food manufacturing interests over the advice of professional nutrition experts.  Oh, and did we remember that the “School Nutrition Assoc.” receives most of its funding from companies which sell food to schools?

Meanwhile – What are we doing to cut the numbers of stroke victims (128,932)? Cancer victims (576,691)? Chronic respiratory disease victims (142,943)? Alzheimer’s victims (84,974)? Flu and Pneunomia (53,862)? Nephritis (45,591)?   We cut the budget for the Centers for Disease Control.

“The agency’s budget in 2014 is $5.9 billion, compared to the $6.5 billion allotted in 2010.  Last year’s budget deal delayed the across-the-board sequester cuts until fiscal 2016, but the law required the CDC to cut 5 percent, or more than $285 million, from its fiscal 2013 budget, the agency said.” [TheHill]

And while the right wing is screaming about how we’re not being kept safe from Ebola and ISIS, or Ebola and ISIS, or Ebola with ISIS, or ISIS with Ebola,  what did the GOP House do to the funding for the agency tasked with securing public health?

The sequester resulted in a $195 million cut in 2013 to the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, which aims to prevent illness and death by a wide variety of infectious diseases, according to the CDC. A CDC report from earlier this year also noted its funding for public health preparedness and response activities was $1 billion lower in fiscal 2013 than in 2002.  [TheHill]

However, all the statistics in the world won’t be as entertaining as Jon Stewart’s rendition of the Million Ways to Die in the U.S.   DO click and enjoy!

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