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New Report Finds Rising Risk of Infectious Diseases in America
Date:10/29/2008

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trust for America's Health (TFAH) released a new report today, Germs Go Global: Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America; which finds that at least 170,000 Americans die annually from newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, a number that could increase dramatically during a severe flu pandemic or yet-unknown disease outbreak. Factors including globalization, increased antimicrobial (drug) resistance, and climate and weather changes are contributing to the increased threat.

"Infectious diseases are not just a crisis for the developing world. They are a real threat right here, right now to America's economy, security, and health system," said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "Infectious diseases can come without warning, crossing boarders, often before people even know they are sick. Americans are more vulnerable than we think we are, and our public health defenses are not as strong as they should be."

The report also finds that the nation's defenses against emerging infectious diseases are insufficient, creating serious consequences for the U.S. health system, economy, and national security. Some major threats currently in the U.S. include:

-- Emerging diseases, like the potential of a pandemic flu outbreak or

another new disease like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS);

-- Dengue fever sickens 100 to 200 Americans each year, usually brought

back by foreign travelers, and is of particular concern along the

U.S.-Mexico border;

-- More than 90,000 Americans have been infected by Methicillin-resistant

Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is the sixth leading cause of death

in the U.S.;

-- An estimated 3.2 million Americans have hepatitis C infections, costing

the country an estimated $15 billion annually in health care costs;

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SOURCE Trust for America's Health
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