The CDC Foundation (2016) describes public health as “the science
of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through
promotion of health lifestyles, research for disease and injury prevention and
detection and control of infectious diseases.” Public health focuses on entire
populations rather than individual patients as in a clinical setting.  From this definition we can establish that
the main focus of public health is to reduce health inequalities with the key
concepts being to protect the public from transmissible diseases, improving
service provision and to promote the health of the population (Naidoo and
Wills, 2005, p.8).  Not only in the state
of Georgia, but the United States as a whole, there has been a sharp increase
with the influenza (flu) epidemic.  Some
public health issues are caused by environmental factors while other issues can
be accidental or intentional such as prescription drug
overdose.  

            The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention defines the flu as “a contagious
respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.”  The flu virus is very similar to the common
cold and just about everyone has experienced the flu at least once in their
life.  Although the flu is comparable to
the common cold, the flu often causes a more severe illness that can lead to
hospitalization or even death.  The CDC
(2017) states that “There are two main types of influenza (flu) virus: Types A
and B.  The influenza A and B viruses
that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for
seasonal flu epidemics each year.  Influenza
A viruses can be broken down into sub-types depending on the genes that make up
the surface proteins.  Over the course of
a flu season, different types (A & B) and subtypes (influenza A) of
influenza circulate and cause illness.”

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The flu virus has impacted the United States as a whole and its
activity is continuing to spread rapidly. 
It has a dangerous affect to those who are young, the elders, and women
who are pregnant.  Because the flu can
develop into pneumonia, death has already transpired in many states this flu
season.  Although the impact of the flu
varies each year, there is still a significant impact on the health of people
in the community and United States.  The
severity of the flu disease “is determined by a number of things including the
characteristics of circulating viruses, the timing of the season, how well the
vaccine is working to protect against illness, and how many people got
vaccinated” according to The CDC (2017). 

            “CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in
between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000
hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010”
(2017).  Since the start of the flu
season, October 1, 2017, there has been 11,965 hospitalizations due to the flu
virus.  For the 2017-2018 flu season,
there has been a total of 37 pediatric deaths associated with the flu virus as
stated by the CDC.

            The CDC plays a major role in saving
lives and protecting people on a global aspect. 
The CDC’s World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for
Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control of Influenza “was established in 1952 to
monitor the frequent changes in influenza viruses with the aim of reducing
influenza disease impact through the use of vaccines containing currently
circulating strains.  The WHO
Collaborating Center is responsible for year-round surveillance to detect flu
viruses early and collecting and analyzing the virus from all around the world.  The flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot,
is highly recommended by the CDC and health providers.  The flu shot is the most important protocol
in protecting against the flu virus. Although there are many flu virus strands,
the flu shot will protect against the most common

virus.  Candidate vaccine viruses are made by The Center
and distributed to manufacturers to mass produce flu vaccines. 

            Protecting yourself during the flu
season is an effective way to prevent the flu.  It is very common for people to over exert themselves
and ignore flu symptoms.  In order to
change the outcome of this epidemic is to limit the contact with others when
feeling ill.  People should not rush back
to work or school and should wait at least 24 hours before returning, to ensure
that they have fully recovered from the flu. 
Antiviral drugs are the most common treatment option if you get the flu
virus.  Antiviral drugs can shorten the
time you are sick as well as prevent flu complications that could possibly result
to death. 

            The National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIH) classifies
opioids as “a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available
legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone
(Vicodin®),
codeine, morphine, and many others.”  Opioid
drugs are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other
pain medications.  Being that they are so
effective, opioids are the most often prescribed pain relievers.  Opioids are generally safe when taken
properly because these medications can help regulate pain when prescribed for
the correct condition.  When taken
incorrectly or abused, opioids can pose significant harm, leading to addiction,
overdose, and even death.  

            The United States is in the center of an
opioid overdose pandemic and is an ongoing threat to the public’s health in
this country.  Drug overdose deaths and
opioid-involved deaths continue to rise in the United States.  “The majority of drug overdose deaths (66%)
involve an opioid. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving
opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) was 5 times higher than
in 1999.  From 2000 to 2016, more than
600,000 people died from drug overdoses. On average, 115 Americans die every
day from an opioid overdose” (Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L, 2016).  “The
amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’
offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010” as stated by the DEA (2011), “yet
there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans
reported” (Change H et al., 2000-2015).  “`Deaths
from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have
more than quadrupled since 1999” according to the CDC (2016).

The CDC implemented Prevention for States which
is a program that helps states fight the ongoing prescription drug overdose
pandemic.  The focus of Prevention for
States is to supply health departments with the necessary resources and support
required to innovate interventions for precluding prescription drug
overdoses.  The CDC specified that “Through
2019, CDC plans to give selected states annual awards between $750,000 and $1
million to advance prevention in four key areas. Awarded states are
collaborating with key partners to maximize efforts and address issues that
impact prescribing and drug overdoses” (2017).

The Georgia Overdose Prevention is an
organization comprised of numerous individuals such as healthcare
professionals, parents, harm reduction advocates and even friends who lost loved
ones due to drug overdose.  Governor
Nathan Deal passed Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law in 2014 which increased
access to the opioid antidote naloxone.  Naloxone
reverses the effects of opioid medication and is used to treat a narcotic overdose
in an emergency situation.  The Georgia
Overdose Prevention is proud to provide the resources to help inform the
community about the Georgia’s 911 Medical Amnesty Law and that naloxone is available.

Improving the way that healthcare providers treat
pain could reverse the prescription drug overdose epidemic.  “Providers wrote nearly a quarter of a
billion opioid prescriptions in 2013—with wide variation across states”
reported by the CDC (2017). 
Reducing overprescribing could
reduce exposure to opioids by preventing misuse, abuse, and overdose before they
start.  Increasing naloxone access in the
community could relevantly change the opioid overdose epidemic.  Public awareness plays a significate role in
the community; increasing awareness of the risks, educating about drug overdose
prevention, and drug treatments could potentially decrease the misuse, abuse,
and overdose in the community.

Public health plays a significant role in prolonging
life and promoting healthy lifestyles.  Overall,
public health focuses on protecting the health of entire populations by implementing
educational programs, conducting research, recommending polices, and
administering services. There are a number of public health issues in the midst
of the United States and organizations like the CDC, local health departments,
healthcare professionals, and nongovernmental organizations are vigorously
working on initiatives to approach these bewildering problems.  The flu epidemic and prescription drug
overdose are continuing to increase around the United States.  Although there are numerous strands of the
flu virus, getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the seasonal
flu virus and spreading it to others.  There
are thousands of deaths each year associated with prescription drug overdose
due to misuse and abuse.  Educating the
public about fatal outcomes of consuming too many prescription opioids and encouraging
global participation in public awareness campaigns can be a critical tool for
preventing drug overdose.  The work of
public health professionals is essential because public health inventiveness
affect people day all over the world. It addresses extensive issues that can
affect health and well-being of individuals, families, communities,
populations, and societies.

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