Health
6:11 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Report: Michigan needs to improve disease prevention, monitoring

Credit Morguefile

The United States needs to do a better job of fighting the spread of infectious disease. And so does the state of Michigan.

That's according to a report released today by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report looked at whether states met ten key indicators showing their capacity to prevent and control infectious disease. Michigan met only five out of ten.

"All of theses pieces need to be in place on a constant basis. We can't always be playing catch up," said Trust for America's Health Executive Director Jeffrey Levi, adding that it's critical for states to have strong vaccination requirements and disease surveillance systems. "That's how you lose lives and how diseases get out of control."

Levi said it's cheaper to prevent outbreaks than to respond to them.

Among other things, the report said fewer than half of Michigan residents older than 6 months  were vaccinated for flu during last year's flu season.

According to the report, 20% of Americans get the flu each year;  between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans die of it, and about 226,000 are hospitalized for it. The report said that leads to more than $10 billion in direct medical expenses and more than $16 billion in lost earnings

The report's recommendations include:

- increasing the number of U.S. residents receiving recommended vaccines and routine screening for particular infectious diseases;

- supporting policies to reduce the number of healthcare-associated infections; and

- modernizing disease surveillance and ensuring public health laboratories have equipment and capacity to test for routine problems as well as new and large-scale threats like pandemics or bio-terrorism.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom