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July 17, 1996

A Global Theme Issue on Emerging and Reemerging Global Microbial Threats

Author Affiliations

State University of New York Buffalo

JAMA. 1996;276(3):197. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540030031023

To the Editor.  —More than 200 articles in 36 journals published in 21 countries1 sound the theme of global emerging or resurgent microbial threats. Yet the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association (AMA)2 points out that the conclusion that infectious diseases pose historically great threats to the general US population "is far from the truth." How far can be seen in recent data on selected notifiable infectious diseases. The Table shows total reported cases of 16 diseases in 19933 and 19944 and the latest cumulative case numbers for 1995.5In contrast to public concerns, reported cases of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), gonorrhea, hepatitis B, mumps, pertussis, syphilis, and tuberculosis each declined by 15% or more in 2 years (pending late returns for 1995). Some of these diseases are underreported year after year, but analysis is further confounded by delays in publishing