The government shutdown has left several federal agencies running with skeleton crews. The problem? Many of those agencies are directly responsible for monitoring the nation’s health. If there was ever a time to highlight the important role that public health plays in keeping America healthy, it is now. Here’s a few specific examples:
-the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the agencies affected by the shutdown. The CDC monitors for disease outbreaks, in particular for foodborne in particular for foodborne illnesses. If you hadn’t heard, there’s currently a salmonella outbreak that has sickened over 270 people. This is only one of some 30 other outbreaks that the CDC is monitoring, but with reduced staff, investigating outbreaks has slowed significantly.
-The CDC has also stopped its surveillance for influenza, although thankfully it’s early in the flu season.
-OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has stopped workplace checks for safety and health violations
-probably the scariest public health related casualty of the government shutdown is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has stopped routine inspections of food facilities. The FDA is responsible for inspecting approximately 80% of the nation’s food supply (the other 20% falls mostly under the authoridy of the USDA – which is still mostly staffed).