New report and recommendations, “Why Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America”

I’m still catching up post-ICAAC – and in addition am on the road reporting, again. But I’m trying to keep all y’all informed. (That’s a clue to my destination. Where in the US is “y’all” a single noun and “all y’all” the plural? Hint: It’s the same place where “barbecue” is only made of beef… Oh, OK, I’m in Texas, enough with the quiz already.)

While the ICAAC-IDSA meeting was happening, the very good nonprofit organization Trust for America’s Health released a report that, just in time for the election, proposed a policy framework for emerging infections and infectious diseases generally. “Germs Go Global: Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America” lists five major, ongoing, under-appreciated threats:

  • Emerging infectious diseases that appear without warning (SARS, H5N1)
  • Re-emerging infectious diseases (measles, pertussis/whooping cough)
  • “Neglected” infectious diseases (dengue)
  • Diseases used as agents of bioterrorism (smallpox, anthrax)
  • Rising/spreading antibiotic resistance.

The report makes a number of important, well-argued recommendations for the next administration to consider. Several concern us particularly:

The U.S. government, professional health organizations, academia, health care delivery systems, and industry should expand efforts to decrease the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in human medicine, agriculture and aquaculture.
The U.S. Congress should amend the Orphan Drug Act to explicitly address infectious diseases like MRSA, or create a parallel incentive system to address the unique concerns in this area.

The entire report is worth reading. (If you’re short on time, there is an executive summary that covers the main points.) I recommend it.

Maryn

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