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HEALTH REPORT – Centers for Disease Control - 2004-02-24

Broadcast: February 25, 2004

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

One of the major health agencies in the United States is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is known as the C-D-C. "Prevention" was added to the name later. The agency has many jobs. For example, it recently provided information to the public about ricin. Some of that poison had been found in a Senate office building in Washington. The C-D-C advised people about ways to stay safe if they ever found ricin.

The C-D-C warns, advises and reports on health subjects from around the world. For example, it is currently providing information about avian influenza. The outbreak of bird flu in Asia has killed more than twenty people in Thailand and Vietnam.

The agency also is advising people how to protect against cold weather and poorly heated homes in winter. And the C-D-C just gave Americans the newest estimate of how long they can expect to live. In two-thousand-two, average life expectancy reached seventy-seven-point-four years. But the C-D-C also reported an increase in the rate of deaths among newborn babies that year. It was the first increase in the United States since nineteen-fifty-eight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its main offices and laboratories are in Atlanta, Georgia. Eight-thousand-five-hundred people work for the C-D-C. These include doctors, nurses, scientists, engineers and others. They all have some part in trying to learn how diseases start, and where and how they spread.

C-D-C laboratories examine tissue, blood and other substances to help identify diseases. For example, the C-D-C recently confirmed the presence in Bangladesh of a viral infection similar to the Nipah virus. This virus was first recognized in nineteen-ninety-nine in Nipah, Malaysia. It was blamed for widespread cases of encephalitis, a brain infection. More than one-hundred people died of the disease.

C-D-C experts are ready to travel anywhere in the world to help deal with outbreaks of disease. The faster the cause is identified, the faster health workers can take steps to contain and control it.

The C-D-C Web site offers information about how to prevent and treat a number of sicknesses, and how to stay healthy. The address is w-w-w dot c-d-c dot g-o-v.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.