Shutdown Has Little Effect On CDC's Flu Prevention Work

Oct 21, 2013

Credit A.J. Cann /

 The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the partial government shutdown didn’t severely hamper efforts to combat the flu.

In its first weekly report since the shutdown, which was issued Friday, the CDC says flu activity in the US was low for the week ending Oct. 12. The CDC reported 166 cases of the flu nationwide, and there were no flu-related deaths in children were reported.  

Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in the CDC’s flu division, says he and his skeleton crew was able to track and research breakouts while the majority of employees were furloughed for 16 days.

“But we weren’t able to look at all the data, and we certainly weren’t able to process all the specimens coming in from the country,” Bresee says.

Bresee says the department was able to wind down or delay experiments before the shutdown, so no work was ruined. He says if there was an oversight or a unique flu strand that needed special attention, it would likely be apparent by now.

“This year, fortunately, we haven’t seen much increase in disease anywhere in the country except for Puerto Rico,” Bresee says.

Bresee says along with Puerto Rico, the highest flu activity was seen in the South.