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Modernization and Improvement

Courier Service impacts public health in Utah

The Epidemiology and
Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases
Cooperative Agreement, or ELC, is CDC’s national
funding strategy for combatting domestic
infectious disease threats. This crucial CDC investment
helps fund epidemiologists, support surveillance systems,
modernize laboratory facilities, and develop flexible
information networks at state and local levels. Communities across America
benefit from actions taken by U.S. public health
departments to prevent, detect, respond to, and control known and emerging infectious
diseases. Utah’s varied and
remote terrain, along with unpredictable
weather patterns, makes transporting
patient specimens to the state public health
laboratory challenging. Thanks to ELC’s funding
for cross-cutting programs, Utah has a courier
service to meet this need. This service makes it possible
to speed up identification of emerging disease threats, which leads to more
timely diagnoses and treatment for patients. Hi. I’m Nancy Arbon, the
Client Services Manager from the Utah Public
Health Laboratory. The Epidemiology Lab Capacity
grant has given us the opportunity to expand
courier services. Using that funding, we’ve
been able to address outbreaks in rural communities
in a timely fashion. During a One Health
Symposium in Utah, cell phones started
ringing simultaneously for epidemiologists and
laboratorians in attendance. A potential human rabies
case had been reported. Immediately, Utah’s Department of Health coordinated the
collection and shipment of specimens to CDC using the
Intermountain Healthcare Courier Service, funded by ELC. It was interesting to watch
the county epidemiologists work with the state epidemiologists,
work with the laboratorians, work with me to get the courier
to go and pick up the sample. It was so neat watching
the impact that we had in protecting the
public health in Utah. CDC confirmed the rabies
diagnosis the next day. Although the patient who had
contact with the rabid bat died, people who had contact with the
patient received life-saving post-exposure treatment
to prevent rabies. No more cases were reported. This story is an
example of how a simple, but necessary courier service
is advancing front line public health outcomes in urban
and rural Utah communities. For more information on CDC’s
national funding strategy for preventing infectious
disease threats, visit c d c dot g o
v slash E L C.

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