CDC's 7 public health threats in focus for 2017

The CDC had a busy year in 2016, working on Zika, antibiotic resistance and more. The federal agency highlighted seven health threats it focused on in 2016 and looked ahead at to what's to come in 2017.

1. Zika and pregnancy. The CDC was on alert for Zika since it swept through Brazil in the middle of 2015, and the agency jumped into action in 2016 when the virus spread to the U.S. It has kept Zika and pregnancy in focus in particular, as the virus has been linked to birth defects like microcephaly. For instance, the CDC established registries to track outcomes of pregnancies of women with Zika.

"Although there has been much progress understanding and combating Zika, CDC's work is far from finished," the agency wrote. "Every day, we are learning more about Zika, and we will not stop fighting to protect pregnant women and all people from the devastating effects of this disease."

2. Antibiotic resistance. In 2016, the CDC supported the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and funded state health departments to help screen for and tackle antibiotic resistance. The agency also released the Antibiotic-Resistance Patient Safety Atlas web app this year, which shows the types of resistance most common in states and regions. Next year, the CDC plans to launch an interactive map to show its investments in health departments, labs and healthcare partners. It will also describe nationwide activities that combat antibiotic resistance.

3. Cancer. This year, the CDC updated its guidelines on who should receive the human papillomavirus vaccine to help prevent cancers caused by HPV infections. Moving forward, the agency plans to improve HPV vaccination coverage through public policy and clinical practice.

4. Prescription drug overdose. The CDC issued guidelines for opioid prescription for chronic pain this year in hopes it would reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose. It also increased funding for state programs aimed at preventing opioid overdoses. The agency will continue to fund and focus on such programs next year.

5. Global health security. According to the CDC, "[K]eeping America safe means stopping — or better still, preventing — health threats everywhere." This year, the agency wound down its Ebola response in March but made other advances globally — for instance, its Global Rapid Response Team has responded to 18 countries for diseases like cholera, yellow fever, Ebola, measles, polio and Zika. The agency will continue this work in 2017 and has committed to the milestones of the Global Health Security Agenda.

6. Tobacco use. 2016 was the fifth year of the CDC's "Tips From Former Smokers" tobacco education campaign, in which Americans share personal stories relating to tobacco illnesses. The CDC plans to continue running TFFS ads in 2017.

7. Rapid response to outbreaks. The CDC used advanced molecular detection technology this year to sequence the DNA of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi and then used supercomputers to discover molecular patterns to better understand diseases. The process helped identify a source of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak and is being used to map Zika virus strains. In 2017, the agency plans to build AMD capacity in state and local labs.

"The agency continues to reflect on the lessons learned over the past year and is committed to helping make 2017 the nation's healthiest year yet," the agency wrote.

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