July 21, 1993

Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the United States

Author Affiliations

Research Institute of the New York Blood Center New York, NY


edited by Joshua Lederberg, Robert E. Shope, and Stanley C. Oakes, Jr (Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health, Division of Health Sciences Policy, Division of International Health, Institute of Medicine), 294 pp, paper, $34.95, ISBN 0-309-04741-2, Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;270(3):384. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510030108047

Aware that infectious diseases, contrary to popular conception, still constitute the leading cause of death worldwide, the Institute of Medicine convened a 19-member multidisciplinary committee to conduct an 18-month study of emerging microbial threats to health. This committee was charged with identifying emerging infectious diseases and recommending steps for their control in the future. The results of their deliberations and those of four task forces convened by the committee are presented in this important volume.

"Would the current acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic have been better controlled if an effective global infectious disease surveillance system had been in place in the 1960s?"

Although the details sometimes make heavy going, the executive summary provides a cogent and concise rundown that should be essential reading for public health professionals and, most important, for political figures responsible for the funding of public health activities.

The factors favoring emergence of new infectious disease threats are