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October 20, 2004

Emerging Infectious Diseases: A Clear and Present Danger to Humanity

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

JAMA. 2004;292(15):1887-1888. doi:10.1001/jama.292.15.1887

Extraordinary strides in identifying and eliminating the pathogens behind many of the major scourges of the last century prompted the US Surgeon General in 1967 to declare that the war against infectious diseases had been won.1 But the announcement was premature. The steady stream of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases since the 1960s has been a sobering wake-up call. Despite many accomplishments in the realm of antibiotics and vaccines, such a declaration of victory was not justified. It is now clearer than ever that the human species is in the midst of a war with the microbial world—a resilient foe that will never be completely defeated.2-4

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