CDC's 6 public health threats in focus for 2016

Several public health threats caught the attention of the CDC in 2015, but the federal agency highlighted the following six as threats that "kept [them] up at night" this past year and that they will continue to watch in 2016.

1. Ebola. In 2015, the CDC assisted the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in their Ebola response and started an Ebola vaccine trial in Sierra Leone. In 2016, the agency's researchers will continue to learn about the Ebola virus and continue in the effort to stay at zero Ebola cases, among other efforts.

2. Antibiotic resistance. The National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistance was released in 2015, and the CDC also published guidelines for state and local health departments to alert organizations when resistant bacteria are reported. Next year, the CDC plans to release the AR Patient Safety Atlas, which will allow open access to antibiotic resistance data, and a report describing progress in antibiotic prescribing processes.

3. Global health security. This year, 30 countries and the U.S. committed to work together to achieve the goals of the Global Health Security Agenda. Now, in 2016, the CDC will work with each of the 30 countries to create a roadmap to achieve GHSA's goals. Additionally, the Netherlands will host a GHSA event to build momentum.

4. Smoking and tobacco use. The CDC will continue the "Tips from Former Smokers" ad campaign to help people quit smoking, and the January Vital Signs report from the CDC will focus on teens and tobacco. This is still a public health threat as one in four nonsmokers in the U.S. are still exposed to secondhand smoke.

5. Prescription drug overdose. In 2016, the CDC will release an opioid prescribing guideline for chronic pain and fund all 50 states for the Prevention for States program to improve tracking of heroin and opioid abuse and deaths and investigate health emergencies.

6. Lab safety. The CDC's 2016 goal is to get as close to zero risk as possible, building on progress made in 2015, such as establishing the Office of the Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety and adding the first class of laboratory leadership fellows.

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