Mayo expert says disease tracking hobbled by shutdown

The federal government shutdown has slowed the nation's ability to track the flu and other infectious diseases, a Mayo Clinic expert says.

Most federal workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are furloughed because of the government shutdown. If it continues, it will be harder to monitor the spread of other disease outbreaks, said Greg Poland, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Mayo.

With flu season underway, it's unclear how many people have been infected and which strains of influenza are starting to emerge around the country, he said.

"There are cases of measles and rubella outbreak in other parts of the world and as we always say, 'We're one plane ride away from an outbreak like that happening in the U.S.," Poland said.

"Who's watching?" he asked. "We really have no one who is able to collate all of the state level and international data and give us a comprehensive snapshot of what's the risk for us."