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January 18, 1995

Effective Response to Emerging Diseases Called an Essential Priority Worldwide

JAMA. 1995;273(3):189-190. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520270023021

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ON ALL SIDES, humankind seems besieged by the appearance of new infectious agents and the resurgence of diseases once thought virtually eliminated as public health problems. Official reports caution about neglect of public health warning systems, and hot on their heels have come popular books relating tales of the appearance of new strains of such deadly agents as Ebola virus ready to pounce on susceptible populations.

An expanding number of protective vaccines and therapeutic antibiotics has induced complacency about both age-old infectious diseases and new infectious agents. At the same time, experts maintain, the growing number of other public health needs, such as providing medical care for uninsured people, has led to a shift away from the traditional "watchdog" public health functions.

See also p 241.

In the last 2 years alone, at least seven infectious agents became the subject of headline news. The events ranged from an outbreak of

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