January 5, 2018

CDC wants to prepare you for a nuclear fallout (just in case)

Daily Briefing

    CDC on Jan. 16 will host a grand rounds to educate health professionals on the public health response to nuclear detonation, the agency announced Thursday.

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    CDC hosts grand rounds about once a month on topics such as birth defects prevention and sodium reduction. CDC previously held grand rounds on radiological and nuclear disaster preparedness in Mach 2010.

    About the event

    While the announcement comes after President Trump earlier this week tweeted at North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un about his "nuclear button," a CDC spokesperson said the agency has been planning the event for several months.

    CDC spokesperson Kathy Harben said, "CDC participants felt it would be a good way to discuss public health preparedness and share resources with states and other partners. State and local partners also have expressed interest in this topic over time."

    A CDC email advertising the conference to its mailing list reads, "Join us for this session of Grand Rounds to learn what public health programs have done on a federal, state, and local level to prepare for a nuclear detonation." It continues, "Learn how planning and preparation efforts for a nuclear detonation are similar and different from other emergency response planning efforts."

    The grand rounds will feature four presentations, titled "Preparing for the Unthinkable," "Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness," "Using Data and Decision Aids to Drive Response Efforts," and "Public Health Resources to Meet Critical Components of Preparedness."

    Speakers at the event will include Dan Sosin, CDC's deputy director and CMO in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, as well as several experts on radiation safety and environmental hazards, Politico reports.

    The agency said, "While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be a limited time to take critical protection steps," adding that "planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness." It continued, "For instance, most people don't realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies [would] lead the immediate response efforts, public health [would] play a key role in responding."

    The event will be webcast from CDC's Atlanta headquarters on Jan. 16. It will be posted on the grand rounds archive later that week (Branswell, STAT News, 1/4; Ehley, Politico, 1/4).

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