Group Gives Arkansas Middle Marks On Infectious Diseases Priority

Dec 28, 2015

Credit Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas achieved a check mark on six of 10 indicators for its infectious disease priorities, placing it above the middle of the pack, according to a December 2015 report, “Outbreaks 2015: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases” by the Trust for America’s Health and by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Arkansas was one of 11 states scoring a “6,” while six states scored a “7” and five an “8”: Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, New York and Virginia. Seven states scored a “3’: Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.

The report says experts say 90% vaccination rates are needed to provide general immunity in a population. Arkansas and Colorado are the only states where rates are below 89% for three recommended vaccines for kindergartners: measles, mumps and rubella; pertussis/whooping cough; diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; and chicken pox.

Arkansas received a check mark in the following areas:
• Increasing or maintaining public health funding from fiscal years 2013-14 to 2014-15, as did 33 other states plus D.C. Arkansas increased funding 0.8%.

• Vaccinating for flu at least half its population above age 6 months from fall 2014 to spring 2015. Arkansas’ rate was 50.5%. Seventeen other states achieved this metric.

• Requiring a parental notarization or affidavit for a religious or philosophical exemption for vaccinations for school attendance, or excluding such exemptions by law. In Arkansas, a parental notification or authorization is required. Nineteen other states have such exclusions or requirements.

• Requiring, like 42 other states and D.C., reporting of all CD4 white blood cell results and HIV viral load test data to its state HIV surveillance program. An HIV viral load test measures how much of the virus is in a person’s bloodstream, while a CD4 test can determine the progression of HIV infection.

• Having its state public health laboratory provide biosafety training and/or information about biosafety training courses in its jurisdiction from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. Thirty-four other states did this.

• Testing 90% of E. coli 0157 cases within four days, as did 39 other states plus D.C.

Arkansas did not receive a check mark in these areas:
• Explicitly authorizing syringe exchange programs. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have such programs.

• Completing a climate change adaptation plan. Fifteen states have done so.

• Reducing the standardized infection ratio for central line-associated blood infections between 2012-13. Nine states achieved that mark.

• Having a biosafety professional at its state public health laboratory from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. Thirty-six states did.