New York Times Profiles CDC’s Early Response to Anthrax
The New York Times today profiles the CDC's initial response to anthrax cases reported last month in Florida and New York City. According to top CDC epidemiologist Dr. James Hughes, the agency sent an "unusually large" team of 15 epidemiologists and laboratory researchers to respond to the Oct. 4 report of anthrax in Boca Raton, Fla., but the investigation "started in the traditional mode, with the assumption that the disease had natural causes." However, the "approach changed abruptly" after CDC scientists found that NBC employee Erin O'Connor had contracted cutaneous anthrax, leading the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service to "embark on the largest epidemiologic investigation" in its 50-year history. The Times reports that the CDC, unsure of "how widespread" the anthrax attack would be, sent dozens of scientists to New York and assigned more than 500 of its 4,000 employees at the agency's Atlanta headquarters to address the anthrax outbreak. "It was clear that we were going to have to operate differently" to address the "immediate and potential threat" posed by the anthrax attacks, Hughes said (Altman, New York Times, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.