Photo Courtesy of CDC
By Forum Staff
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday demanded that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention immediately designate a special “domestic flu surveillance team” for New York.
In a letter to the CDC, Schumer noted that the Empire State is facing an historic outbreak of influenza this season, with nearly 20,000 reported cases and more than 5,200 residents already hospitalized with the serious disease. There were 3,533 flu hospitalizations in New York all of last year. According to the CDC, flu activity peaks between December and March and can last as late as May.
“A New York-specific flu surveillance team would help take the state’s temperature on the epidemic and help break its fever,” the senator said. “With record-setting highs this season, it’s absolutely critical that New York have the resources it needs to track the flu’s path, gather intelligence, and combat this powerful virus. The CDC should immediately designate a special domestic flu surveillance team for New York to hone in on the virus and augment the great work of our local hospitals and health departments.”
Schumer said that the purpose of the CDC domestic flu surveillance team is to collect, analyze, and publish data on the impact of the flu. Specifically, the team seeks information on when and where the flu activity is occurring, determining the strain of flu circulating, detecting changes in the virus and measuring the impact of the virus on hospitalizations and deaths. The data gathered is used to improve and adapt the influenza vaccination, and geospatial data can be used to issue public health advisories to healthcare workers keeping them updated about symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.
“It is imperative that we commit all and every available resource to combat and mitigate the widespread effect of the flu on New Yorkers this season,” Schumer wrote in the letter.
New York’s senior senator also asked the CDC for guidance on preparing for such an epidemic in the future.
“I request a list of additional activities that the CDC and broader administration can take in subsequent years to better combat the flu, as well as recommendations for any actions that Congress can take to augment federal and state efforts on flu prevention,” he wrote. “I stand prepared to work hand in hand with state and federal officials to help with this year’s flu epidemic, and ensure that Congress plays it role in working towards preventing years like this one from happening again.”
Photo Courtesy of CDC