April 26, 2018

CDC Electronic Laboratory Reports Improve Outbreak Response

cdc_logo1The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been promoting its electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) by the 10,400 labs that send reportable data to health agencies. In the Cyclospora outbreak that is still ongoing, government health officials encouraged doctors and labs around the country to use telediagnosis to speed up diagnoses and reporting illnesses to government officials.

CDC has funded 57 state, local and territorial health departments to increase the use of ELR. The number of health departments that are using the system has more than doubled since 2005. State and local departments estimate that almost two-thirds of lab reports were received electronically. When information about a potential foodborne illness outbreak is received and disseminated quickly, the source can be identified more quickly and fewer people will become ill.

Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director, said in a statement, “infectious disease outbreaks will always be with us – and rapid recognition of an outbreak saves lives. Thanks to electronic laboratory reporting, we’re detecting outbreaks faster than ever. Unfortunately, only a quarter of the labs across the country use ELR. We must keep expanding use of ELR to help CDC and our partners save lives and reduce healthcare costs.”

The Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC) Cooperative Agreement protects the public health and safety of Americans. It strengthens epidemiological capacity, improves health information systems, and provides a platform for networks such as FoodNet and PulseNet that identify infectious diseases such as Salmonella and E. coli. FoodNet, for instance, tracks trends for infections commonly transmitted through food, and has an active surveillance system for lab-confirmed cases of infections such as Campylobacter, Listeria, Shigella, and Cyclospora.

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