US joins 26 countries to fight disease outbreaks

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

surgical mask
Surgical masks can help prevent airborne diseases from spreading. However, your best bet is simply to wash your hands often.

The US is coordinating a worldwide effort with 26 countries to reduce the threat of infectious diseases. It’s easier than ever for people to travel the world now and viruses from other nations can affect just about anywhere. So, US officials are pushing the Global Health Security Agenda to organize response plans that can prevent the spread of illness.

In the Caribbean, a mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya is causing fevers, joint pains, and stomach illness. Meanwhile, China has been struck by the H7N9 bird flu and the Middle East is suffering an unknown virus that affects breathing. “There are too many blind spots around the world,” warns Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“That’s why we announced Thursday that the United States, through the work of the CDC and the departments of Agriculture, State, and Defense, has committed to cooperate with at least 30 partner countries,” explains Frieden, “to better prevent, detect, and effectively respond to infectious disease threats, better protecting at least 4 billion people around the world – including the United States – from threats.” Now, the US Department of Defense and the CDC plan to spend $40 million to expand to 10 more countries and develop projects in Vietnam and Uganda.

Featured image courtesy of CDC Global Health Security. Image of surgical mask courtesy of Yasser Alghofily on Flickr.