WASHINGTON , Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trust for America's Health (TFAH) released a new report today, Germs Go Global: Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America; which finds that at least 170,000 Americans die annually from newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, a number that could increase dramatically during a severe flu pandemic or yet-unknown disease outbreak. Factors including globalization, increased antimicrobial (drug) resistance, and climate and weather changes are contributing to the increased threat.
"Infectious diseases are not just a crisis for the developing world. They are a real threat right here, right now to America's economy, security, and health system," said Jeffrey Levi , PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "Infectious diseases can come without warning, crossing boarders, often before people even know they are sick. Americans are more vulnerable than we think we are, and our public health defenses are not as strong as they should be."
The report also finds that the nation's defenses against emerging infectious diseases are insufficient, creating serious consequences for the U.S. health system, economy, and national security. Some major threats currently in the U.S. include:
Worldwide, infectious diseases are the leading killer of children and adolescents, and are one of the leading causes of death for adults. According to the National Intelligence Estimate, "newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases ... will complicate U.S. and global security for the next 20 years. These diseases will endanger U.S. citizens at home and abroad, threaten U.S. armed forces deployed overseas, and exacerbate social and political instability in key countries and regions in which the U.S. has significant interests."
The Germs Go Global report examines major vulnerabilities in the current U.S. strategy for combating infectious diseases, including:
"Recent history provides numerous reminders that infectious diseases are continuing to emerge in the United States and around the world," said James Hughes , MD, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health at
"The optimal preparedness for emerging, reemerging, and deliberately introduced infectious diseases requires a professionally trained and adequately funded public health infrastructure," said Kathleen F. Gensheimer , MD, MPH, State Epidemiologist, Division of Infectious Disease, Maine Department of Health and Human Services. "Epidemics, pandemics and other public health emergencies require a solid public health laboratory diagnostic and epidemiological surveillance system to detect aberrance in disease trends, allowing rapid response and targeted preventive actions to be instituted in a timely fashion."
"We need to improve our capability to protect the American people from emerging infectious diseases, whether naturally occurring or man-made, which includes developing new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines," Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) said. "To help, Congress created the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to partner with industry and fund the advanced development of these needed medical countermeasures. I am pleased this new report recommends fully funding BARDA and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure its continued success."