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October 8, 2014

Contemporary Challenges to Human Health: Infectious Disease Theme Issue

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor
  • 2Associate Editor, JAMA
JAMA. 2014;312(14):1407-1408. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12673

Among medical specialties, infectious disease is distinguished by rapid and constant change. As microorganisms emerge and evolve, so do diagnostic tests and treatments. This theme issue of JAMA is devoted to the broad and dynamic field of infectious disease.

Targeted efforts have helped eliminate previously common diseases. While the dangers of Dr Norman Bethune’s childhood at the beginning of the 20th century (illustrated in this issue’s The Art of JAMA),1 including polio, mumps, measles, and diphtheria, are rare today, new threats have emerged. Modern-day management of infection involves the combination of appropriate and timely diagnosis, antibiotics, vaccination, and infection control. Improved diagnostics, more effective drugs, new vaccines, and an increasing body of evidence-based approaches to infection prevention are among recent advances. Specific accomplishments include vaccines to prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b infection and human papillomavirus infection, along with safe and effective therapies for HIV and hepatitis C. However, many challenges remain, with population growth and climate change adding to these burdens.