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N.J. better prepared than Pa. for disease, disaster, and bioterrorism, report says

Zika virus. Deadly floods. Wildfires. Hardly a week goes by without a headline about disease outbreaks, environmental crises, or bioterrorism somewhere in the world.

Yet with all that publicity, most states are not fully ready for the next one, according to a new report from the nonprofit Trust for America's Health.

The authors rated each of the 50 states and Washington D.C. on their emergency preparedness in 10 key areas, and found that after responding to a crisis, many settle back into complacency.

New Jersey was deemed prepared in eight out of 10 categories, while Pennsylvania made the grade in just six out of 10.

Both states fell short in their flu vaccination rates, failing to inoculate at least half of their populations aged six months and older for the seasonal flu from fall 2015 to spring 2016, according to the report.

Generally, during floods and other environmental crises, health systems are unprepared for the influx of patients with chronic conditions, report authors stated. Elderly patients on dialysis, for example, may be unable to get to their usual treatment centers due to interruptions in public transportation service, and thus they end up in already-taxed emergency rooms.

The report authors said transit systems and utilities should work with public-health officials to ensure better preparedness.

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