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What the government shutdown will mean for the nation’s top public health agencies.

If Congress and the White House don’t agree on a new budget by midnight Friday, the US government is going to shut down.

That means all “nonessential” federal employees and programs will not be able to do their jobs. What’s particularly concerning are the tens of thousands of them who work at the agencies responsible for public health — such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks and responds to diseases like flu and foodborne illness.

In the case of a shutdown, 50 percent of the Department of Health and Human Services’ 80,000-member staff will likely be furloughed, cutting the federal health staff down to only 40,000 employees. That includes the people at the CDC who monitor outbreaks, the researchers at the National Institutes of Health who are looking for disease cures, and the inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration who look out for pharmaceutical and food safety. More than that, it means some patients won’t be able to enroll in clinical trials for potentially lifesaving procedures.

Here’s what we can expect for health and science during a shutdown. It’s making us anxious.

1) A government shutdown could mean we won’t know, in real time, how deadly this year’s flu outbreak is

Right now, America is in the grips of one of the deadliest seasonal flu epidemics in recent memory. But if the government sputters to a halt tonight, the CDC will have to freeze most of its seasonal influenza program.

State labs continued to operate, doing the work of surveilling disease to detect outbreaks, but they won’t be able to call on CDC epidemiologists for help coordinating investigations — and any samples sent to the agency will likely pile up, Read More Here