NH DHHS - New CDC Report Indicates NH Is Well Prepared to Respond to Public Health Emergencies

Concord, NH - A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC) indicates that New Hampshire has made significant progress

toward building and strengthening its public health emergency preparedness

and response capabilities.

The report, Public Health Preparedness: 2011 State-by-State Update on

Laboratory Capabilities and Response Readiness Planning, presents data on a

laboratory and response activities taking place at state and local health

departments across the nation. Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and

recover from all types of public health threats – such as disease

outbreaks, chemical releases, or natural disasters – requires that public

health departments improve their capabilities in surveillance and

epidemiology, laboratories, and response readiness.

“We are pleased with the results of the report and that it reflects all of

the hard work employees at our Department and around the State have put in

over the past few years to respond to emergencies,” said Dr. José Montero,

Director of Public Health at the Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS). “Some real emergencies of late have also enabled us to improve our

response and learn what works better.”

Accomplishments in 2010 highlighted in the report for New Hamsphire


The Public Health Laboratories (PHL) at DHHS are able to test for

specific biological agents. The laboratories passed four out of four

proficiency tests to evaluate their abilities to receive, test, and

report on one or more suspected biological agents to CDC.

PHL has capabilities for responding if the public is exposed to

chemical agents. The New Hampshire Laboratories successfully

identified 17 out of 17 unknown chemical agents, which can cause

severe health effects, during proficiency testing.

The PHL received a score of 100% on its ability to rapidly identify

E. coli O157:H7 samples using advanced DNA testing.

DHHS has a 24/7 reporting capacity system that can receive and

respond to urgent disease reports at any time.

New Hampshire received an overall score of 90 out of 100 in 2010 from

CDC for its plans to receive stage, distribute, and dispense medical

assets received from CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile or other


For the Manchester/Nashua Metropolitan Statistical Area, the State

received a Technical Assistance Review score of 87 out of 100. This

is part of the Cities Readiness Initiative of the Strategic National


DHHS along with Homeland Security and Emergency Management developed

four after action report/improvements plans following assessments of

their response capabilities during exercises or real incidents.

Public health threats are always present, whether caused by natural,

accidental, or intentional means. Incidents such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza

pandemic, the Vermont Yankee tritium investigation, Hurricane Irene, and

other disease outbreaks and natural disasters that have occurred recently

underscore the importance of communities being prepared for all types of

hazards. Preparing adequately for future emergencies and outbreaks – and

other public health emergencies that are inevitable and may occur

simultaneously – requires predictable and adequate long-term funding and

effort to sustain and improve the public health infrastructure, staffing,

and training.

The report and State-specific information on New Hampshire is available on

CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/pubs-links/2011/.