CDC inaugurates new facility to study and prevent dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever
CDC inaugurated its new facility in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 18, 2001. These facilities, occupied since August, are the third location occupied by CDC staff in Puerto Rico since 1951 when the CDC established a field station and assigned its first permanent staff to the island. Dr. Jeffrey C. Koplan, Director of the CDC, and Dr. John V. Rullan, Secretary of Health of Puerto Rico, will speak at the inauguration ceremony.
In the early 1900's, the U.S. Public Health Service was involved in the control of plague, smallpox, and other infectious diseases that threatened the island's population. In the middle part of the century, attention was shifted to the prevention and control of malaria, rabies, and schistosomiasis. Beginning in the 1970's, CDC's major emphasis in Puerto Rico has been on prevention and control of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever.
In dedicating its full effort to dengue, the Dengue Branch has four major areas of emphasis: epidemiology and surveillance; laboratory diagnosis; studies of the biology, behavior, and control of the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits dengue; and development of community-based dengue prevention programs. Seventeen federal and six Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH) employees work together at CDC's Dengue Branch.
"I am very proud of the 50 years of collaboration between the CDC and the PRDH. The San Juan Laboratories, established in 19XX, have been a major resource for better health, " said Dr. Koplan. "During this period much as been done to improve the quality of life and development on the island. With the inauguration of these new facilities, the CDC looks forward to continued progress in the prevention of dengue and other infectious diseases in Puerto Rico and the region."
The CDC Dengue Branch has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Reference Center for Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever Research. Viruses and other specimens are sent to San Juan for laboratory analysis and reagents are provided to collaborating national laboratories in the Americas.
"As a WHO Reference Center, the new facility will enable us to expand our training and reference activities for countries where dengue occurs," said Dr. Gary G. Clark, head of CDC's Dengue Branch in San Juan. "Our international activities are an important opportunity for us to help public health officials in other countries and improve dengue prevention efforts in Puerto Rico.
CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.