4 notable outbreaks in the last decade

This decade contained many large disease outbreaks that put the nation's infection control efforts to the test.

Below are four notable outbreaks that occurred since 2010:

1. Ebola — 2014

West Africa's Ebola outbreak sparked international concern in 2014, killing more than 11,310 people and infecting more than 28,000. The outbreak is now the most fatal and widespread ever recorded.

Atlanta-based Emory University Hospital treated the nation's first-ever Ebola patient in 2014. In total, 11 people were treated for Ebola in U.S. hospitals during the outbreak, most of whom were medical workers. The situation exposed many vulnerabilities in the U.S. healthcare system's emergency preparedness for infectious diseases. At the time, only a handful of hospitals were equipped with functional biocontainment units to treat patients.

2. Zika virus — 2015-16

North and South America experienced several large Zika virus outbreaks starting in 2015, which led to an uptick in travel-associated cases in the U.S. In 2016, the nation reported 5,168 Zika cases, most of which involved U.S. travelers returning from foreign outbreak zones. However, 224 Americans did contract Zika through local mosquito transmission, and 45 cases occurred through sexual transmission.

3. Acute flaccid myelitis — 2018

The mysterious polio-like illness sickened 237 children in 41 states in 2018 — the highest case count since the CDC began tracking the illness in 2014. The sudden spike sparked fear in parents and lawmakers alike, who called on the CDC to investigate the illness.

The agency established an AFM task force in November 2018 to support the ongoing investigation into the cause of the illness and treatment options. The exact cause of AFM is still unknown, although new research suggests an enterovirus is to blame.

4. Measles — 2019

Nationwide, measles sickened 1,276 people in 2019, marking the highest number of measles cases reported since 1992. The drastic uptick in cases this year drew concern that the U.S. would lose its measles elimination status, which it earned in 2000.

The resurgence in cases is largely driven by the anti-vaccine movement, which spurred states including New York to eliminate nonmedical vaccine exemptions for school children this year.

More articles on clinical leadership & infection control:
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6 hospitals seeking CMOs
Vermont hospital extends OR closure into 2020 as sickening smell remains unsolved

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