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Health study: Arkansas and Louisiana lack defenses against 'superbugs'


Arkansas and Louisiana are ill-prepared to detect, diagnose and respond to threats like Ebola and outbreaks of infectious diseases, according to a report released Thursday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report, “Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases,” found that Arkansas scored the lowest of all, two out of 10 on key indicators related to preventing and responding to antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”

The researchers said Louisiana scored three out of 10, along with six other states. The executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, Jeffrey Levi, suggests that Arkansas and Louisiana put more dollars toward public health efforts.

“There are processes and procedures that require collaboration between the public health system and the health care system. Those are critical to have in place. Also, as we saw in the Ebola outbreak, to have a good level of cooperation and communication to deal with any kind of emerging threat to the public,” Levi said during a teleconference with reporters Thursday.

Dr. Eric Toner, senior associate with the Center for Health Security at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says this report reveals that infectious disease physicians are going to have an increasingly difficult time winning the battle against superbugs.

“So many of the routine infections that physicians treat are now resistant to the antibiotics that have traditionally been used. We have to use new, more expensive and more complicated antibiotics. There are some infections for which we have no treatment,” Toner said.

Levi acknowledged dramatic improvements in the ability of states to respond to outbreaks. But he says during the recent Ebola outbreak some of the most basic infectious disease control policies failed when tested.

The states were evaluated on 10 indicators– from state spending on public health to levels of vaccination against seasonal flu.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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