REQUEST FOR CONTINUING FUNDING FOR THE NATIONAL PRION DISEASE PATHOLOGY SURVEILLANCE CENTER
We wish to emphasize the critical need of maintaining funding for the CDC supported National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (the Center) at no less than 90% of the current 5.474M (FY2010 appropriation). The Center is the only organization in the United States that (1) monitors the possible occurrence of "mad cow" disease and other human prion diseases caused by eating prion contaminated elk and deer meat, blood transfusion, surgical instruments and other sources of prion infection; and (2) ensures that countries that import meat products from the United States continue to regard US meat as safe from mad cow disease and do not discontinue importation as has happened in the past.
REASONS FOR THE REQUEST
Based at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland OH, the Center receives 100% of its funding for prion (mad cow) disease surveillance through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Continued funding for the Center in 2011 (Continuing Resolution) and 2012 (President's proposed Budget) is at grave risk. The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed zeroing out funding for the Center, for 2012. Loss of that funding would force the Center to shut down at a time in which prion affected cows (mad cows) and human cases of mad cow disease continue to be detected around the world including the US and most recently Canada from which the United States freely imports cattle.
The Center also plays a decisive role in resolving suspected cases or clusters of cases of food acquired prion disease such as mad cow disease or prion diseases possibly acquired from prion infected elk and deer. These cases often are magnified by the media and stir intense public alarm. To date, the Center has examined about 4,000 suspected incidents of prion diseases and has definitely confirmed presence and type of prion disease in nearly 2,300 cases.
The Center represents the last line of defense in safeguarding the US public health against prion diseases because the United States - unlike other countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, other European Countries and Japan - does not have a robust animal prion surveillance system,
The Center plays a second important role: It offers assurance to the countries that import (or consider whether to import) meat from the United States that the United States is free of indigenous human mad cow disease. For example, South Korean health officials recently resumed importation of US beef to their country after a visit to the Center provided assurances regarding prion surveillance.
Therefore, the abolition or major reduction of funding to the Center would not only eliminate an important safety net to US public health, but it would also jeopardize the export of US beef by making the United States the only industrialized country lacking prion surveillance.
Pierluigi Gambetti M.D. Professor and Director National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center Department of Pathology, Division of Neuropathology Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH Phone 216 368 0587 FAX 216 368 2546
All Other Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases CDC‘s FY 2012 request of $52,658,000 for all other emerging and zoonotic infectious disease activities is a decrease of $13,607,000 below the FY 2010 level, which includes the elimination of Prion activities ($5,473,000), a reduction for other cross-cutting infectious disease activities, and administrative savings. These funds support a range of critical emerging and zoonotic infectious disease programs such Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Special Pathogens, as well as other activities described below.
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Date confirmed Location Animal type infected Age of animal February 18 Alberta Dairy cow 77 months
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