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July 17, 1996

A Global Theme Issue on Emerging and Reemerging Global Microbial Threats-Reply

Author Affiliations

Senior Editor, JAMA
Associate Senior Editor, JAMA

JAMA. 1996;276(3):198. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540030032025

In Reply.  —Dr Plaut suggests that the declining rates of some infectious diseases in the United States over the last 2 years mitigates the need to address emerging and reemerging microbial threats and quotes the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs report1 as further evidence. For many of the infectious diseases he presents in the selected list, a significant trend in either direction is unlikely to be established over a 3-year period. Furthermore, the content of the Council report challenges his assumption.The victories cited by the Council—smallpox, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, measles, and Haemophilus influenzae type B—have all been won through the use of nationwide vaccination campaigns. The victory of vaccination is cause for celebration, but not complacency. Diphtheria in the former Soviet Union and measles in the United States resurged as vaccination programs became less comprehensive, pointing to the need for continued vigilance against even those diseases we have "conquered."The Council