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NH well-prepared for public health emergencies, says CDC


CONCORD — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says New Hampshire has made significant progress with its public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities and remains ready to respond to a crisis, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday.

The CDC report, 2013-2014 National Snapshot of Public Health Preparedness, includes data on laboratory and response activities happening at state and local health departments across the nation. Being prepared to prevent, respond to and recover from all types of public health threats — such as disease outbreaks, chemical releases or natural disasters — requires public health departments to improve and maintain their capabilities in surveillance and epidemiology, laboratories and response readiness.

"We are pleased with the results of the report," Dr. Jose Montero, director of Public Health at DHHS, said in a prepared statement. "Employees at our department and around the state have put in tremendous amounts of work over the last few years to prepare for emergencies as well as some real-life practice that enabled us to improve and learn what works best for the people of New Hampshire."

Accomplishments highlighted in the report include:

The Public Health Laboratories passed all four proficiency tests in 2012 that evaluated ability to receive, test and report on suspected biological agents to the CDC. The state lab successfully identified a chemical agent during unannounced proficiency testing and scored 100 on its ability to rapidly identify E. coli and Listeria samples and send the results into the PulseNet system within four days.

The state developed an incident action plan for a response and received an overall score of 100 from the CDC on the technical assistance review for its plans to receive, stage, distribute and dispense medical assets received from the Strategic National Stockpile or other sources.For the Manchester/Nashua area, the state received a technical assistance review score of 80 out of 100 in 2012, part of the Cities Readiness Initiative of the Strategic National Stockpile.

State health officials said since 2009, the state has dealt with an H1N1 influenza pandemic, a Vermont Yankee tritium investigation, "Snowtober," hepatitis C and A outbreaks and other emergencies, underscoring the importance of being prepared for all types of hazards.According to the report, the state receives $5.39 million from the CDC through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement.

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The report and state-specific information on New Hampshire is available at www.cdc.gov/phpr/pubs-links/2013.

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