The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing $67 million to state and local health departments to boost their ability to fight antibiotic resistance and other patient safety threats, including health-care-associated infections, the agency said Wednesday.
The new funding also designates seven existing public health laboratories as regional labs that will have specialized, “gold-standard” capacities for more rapid and effective detection and identification of emerging antibiotic-resistant threats. Each will also generate stronger data for improved infection control among patients to prevent and combat future threats, said Nicole Coffin, a CDC spokeswoman.
The labs were strategically chosen across the country to help track changes quickly. They are located in Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, New York, Washington state and Wisconsin.
The funds will be distributed to all 50 state health departments and local health departments in Chicago, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles County, New York City, Philadelphia and Puerto Rico.
CDC officials said the funding, which will be available starting Monday, will dramatically expand public health officials’ ability to track infections in hospitals and other health care settings, better protect patients and increase coordination among medical providers. The measures are part of the Obama administration’s national action plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat not only in the United States but around the world. Global health experts were further alarmed last year by the discovery last year of a new superbug gene, mcr-1, that makes bacteria resistant to colistin, the antibiotic of last resort.
In addition to the detection capacity provided through the seven regional labs, every state health department lab will be able to test for a particularly dangerous type of superbug known as CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which health officials have dubbed “nightmare bacteria.” In some instances, it kills up to 50 percent of patients who become infected.
Every state health department lab also will work toward whole genome sequencing on intestinal bacteria, including Salmonella, Shigella and many Campylobacter.
Agency officials said the investments will strengthen the ability of states to conduct food-borne disease tracking, investigation and prevention, with increased support for several laboratory network reporting and surveillance systems. Some of those systems use DNA fingerprinting to find clusters of disease that might represent unrecognized outbreaks.
CDC will provide support teams in nine health departments for rapid-response activities designed to quickly identify and respond to the threat of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.