CDC outlines 'unprecedented' challenges of 2014

The past year brought with it "unprecedented" healthcare challenges, including Ebola, Enterovirus D-68 and antibiotic resistance, making the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) mission critical, the agency noted in a report that reviewed the public health threats that ensued this year. 

The agency's biggest test in 2014 was containing the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, the largest such effort in the agency's history, which involved 170 field staff and 700 others. "Americans will be 100 percent safe only when we succeed in stopping Ebola at its source in West Africa," CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., said in the statement.

In addition to its Ebola-related work, the CDC has also made antibiotic resistance a priority in 2014, the risk of which increases 1 percent for every day a patient spends in the hospital. Despite progress in the past year, healthcare providers must continue working to combat both antibiotic resistance and hospital-acquired infections in 2015, according to the CDC.

"Every day we don't act to better protect antibiotics will make it harder and more expensive to address drug resistance in the future," Beth P. Bell, M.D., director of CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said in the statement. "Drug resistance can undermine both our ability to fight infectious diseases and much of modern medicine."

Another major challenge for the CDC this year was Enterovirus D-68, a respiratory virus that affected large amounts of children in the U.S. in 2014. "When rare or uncommon viruses suddenly begin causing severe illness, CDC works quickly to develop diagnostic tests to enhance our response and investigations," said Anne Schuchat, M.D., assistant surgeon general and director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Also of major concern to the CDC in 2014 was Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which steeply increased in proliferation this year. The virus has about a 30 percent fatality rate, according to the World Health Organization.

To learn more:
- read the CDC announcement
- here's the report