NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana and Mississippi got good grades on plans for dealing with public health emergencies and on their public health labs’ performance.
For the second year in a row, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave Louisiana’s plans a perfect score in all 13 categories.
Only seven other states — California, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Virginia — have made perfect scores for the last two years, said Ken Pastorick, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Hospitals. He said California and Virginia have done so all three years the CDC has given the ratings,
Mississippi missed that mark by one category in both 2008-09 and 2009-10, according to the report released Tuesday. Each year, it got 92 rather than 100 on security — planning to ensure that shipments of treatments or preventative medicines and the people who transport and administer them are safe.
“The arrival and transport of scarce resources will be newsworthy and may draw attention from persons unwilling to wait for the organized dispensing ... The development of a comprehensive security plan through coordination with law enforcement is essential to maintaining control and order during this period,” the CDC wrote.
National averages in the 13 categories ranged from 88 on repackaging bulk medications for public dispensing to 99 on requesting medical supplies from the strategic national stockpile.
Both states’ labs passed tests for identifying biological and chemical agents.
Each identified every strain of E. coli it was sent and 16 of 17 chemical agents sent in September, according to the report. Louisiana’s lab also correctly identified 10 Listeria bacteria strains it was sent; that germ wasn’t sent to Mississippi.
The test samples aren’t the dangerous germs and chemicals themselves, but related compounds or germs that need the same tests. For chemicals, a courier brings metabolites — chemicals that would be created when the body breaks down a chemical that could be used for warfare, said Stephen Martin, lab director for the state’s public health laboratories in Metairie and Shreveport. Vaccine strains or other non-living strains might substitute for live germs.
Martin said a broken air conditioner kept Louisiana from testing the 17th chemical warfare surrogate it was sent in September 2010. The computerized test equipment works only in a narrow range of temperature and humidity, he said.
“When the temperature in the lab with the instrumentation goes higher than it should, the instrumentation shuts itself down,” he said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press