While the ICAAC-IDSA meeting was happening, the very good nonprofit organization Trust for America's Health released a report that, just in time for the election, proposed a policy framework for emerging infections and infectious diseases generally. "Germs Go Global: Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America" lists five major, ongoing, under-appreciated threats:
- Emerging infectious diseases that appear without warning (SARS, H5N1)
- Re-emerging infectious diseases (measles, pertussis/whooping cough)
- "Neglected” infectious diseases (dengue)
- Diseases used as agents of bioterrorism (smallpox, anthrax)
- Rising/spreading antibiotic resistance.
The U.S. government, professional health organizations, academia, health care delivery systems, and industry should expand efforts to decrease the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in human medicine, agriculture and aquaculture.The entire report is worth reading. (If you're short on time, there is an executive summary that covers the main points.) I recommend it.
The U.S. Congress should amend the Orphan Drug Act to explicitly address infectious diseases like MRSA, or create a parallel incentive system to address the unique concerns in this area.