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February 2, 2005

Emerging Infectious Diseases—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(5):554. doi:10.1001/jama.293.5.554-b

In Reply: Dr Mahendradhata is correct in pointing out the importance of public health measures in the detection, treatment, and prevention of infectious disease. As I stated in the Editorial, the best defenses against emerging microbial pathogens are “public health measures coordinated with biomedical research.” Developing strategies to measure the effectiveness of health care delivery is certainly an important part of a robust public health effort.

The recent severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak offers an excellent example of how a multifaceted effort by public health agencies and researchers around the world led to the successful containment of a fatal disease.1 Public health efforts, including case identification, case isolation, contact tracing, and infection control, along with state-of-the art biomedical and genomic technologies, allowed public health officials to rapidly identify the coronavirus as the etiologic agent, and to conduct effective surveillance of the virus as it emerged and evolved in different geographic regions. Without the coordination of public health measures and newly developed biotechnologies, the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic might have rapidly developed into a worldwide pandemic.

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