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Public Health Experts Discuss Infectious Diseases Threats at News Conference
Date:7/22/2009

WASHINGTON, July 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Updates on the impact of sexually transmitted diseases, infection risk from animals in the home and public settings, seasonal and H1N1 influenza, and foodborne diseases were presented today at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The news conference was sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

"Each year we face new and reemerging infectious diseases threats," said Susan J. Rehm, M.D., NFID medical director and vice chair, Department of Infectious Disease, at the Cleveland Clinic. "Our goal as medical professionals is to ensure that we identify these threats in a timely manner and educate the public to minimize the overall impact on society."

Influenza is currently the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in the United States. Seasonal influenza causes an estimated 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States. Most of the deaths occur in the elderly, but the hospitalization rate for children 2 years of age and younger is comparable to the hospitalization rate of the elderly. As of June 30, 2009 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had received 89 reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths with 67 being attributed to seasonal influenza and 22 pandemic influenza cases.

"Unfortunately, seasonal influenza immunization has never been a health priority for Americans," said Carol J. Baker, executive director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research and professor of pediatrics, molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "Influenza is not easy to recognize and is often confused with less severe respiratory viral infectious such as the common cold."

Novel H1N1 influenza virus, which was recognized in late April 2009, has caused a million cases of
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SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
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