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Emerging Infections and Biothreats

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Public health emergencies caused by infectious threats have the potential to kill thousands or millions of people. These threats can emerge naturally as outbreaks or pandemics, such as influenza (pandemic and seasonal), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), extremely-drug resistant (XDR) tuberculosis, New Delhi metallo-b-lactamase 1 (NDM1), antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, and HIV/AIDS. Or, they can emerge deliberately through bioterrorism, such as the 2001 anthrax attacks or potential threats posed by smallpox, tularemia, and plague. Infectious threats can undermine not only patient care and public health, but also national security. Influenza pandemics, for example, have a long history of devastation in terms of lives lost, hospitalizations, and destabilizing national economies. 

Each day, infectious diseases physicians and scientists serve on the front lines in protecting us from such threats. IDSA advances US preparedness and response initiatives by promoting appropriate action by health care providers, strengthened public health and research efforts, development of life-saving countermeasures (vaccines, drugs and diagnostics), and implementation of appropriate non-therapeutic control measures.

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