Ingenuity, knowledge, and organization alter but cannot cancel humanity's vulnerability to invasion by parasitic forms of life. Infectious disease which antedated the emergence of humankind will last as long as humanity itself, and will surely remain, as it has been hitherto, one of the fundamental parameters and determinants of human history.
William H. McNeil, Plagues and Peoples, 19761
Four years ago, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported that infectious diseases accounted for 25% of all physician visits in the United States.2 Yet according to a 1992 Institute of Medicine report on emerging infections,3 the public was relatively unaware of the growing threats to human health posed by microbial diseases, and even medical professionals underestimated the dangers to public health. The report concluded that a "small minority, mainly infectious disease specialists, have for years warned of the potential for serious epidemics and our lack of
Winker MA, Flanagin A, McLendon WW, Foege WH. Emerging and Reemerging Global Microbial ThreatsCall for Papers. JAMA. 1995;273(3):241-242. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520270075036