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Threat From Infectious Diseases Growing
Date:10/29/2008

Report points to globalization, drug resistance and climate change as culprits

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- At least 170,000 Americans die each year from infectious diseases, and that number could increase dramatically during a major disease outbreak.

That dire news was delivered in a report, Germs Go Global: Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America, released Wednesday by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH).

Globalization, increased drug resistance, and climate change are among the factors contributing to the growing threat from infectious diseases, according to the report, which listed some major disease threats currently facing the United States, including:

  • Emerging diseases such as a potential bird flu outbreak or another new disease such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 90,000 Americans have been infected by MRSA.
  • Hepatitis C. About 3.2 million Americans have hepatitis C infections, which account for about $15 billion a year in health-care costs.
  • HIV/AIDS, which affects about 1.2 million Americans. Last year, U.S. spending on HIV/AIDS-related medical care, research, prevention and other activities was $23.3 billion.
  • Re-emerging diseases, such as measles, mumps and tuberculosis, which were thought to be nearly eliminated in the United States.

"Infectious diseases are not just a crisis for the developing world. They are a real threat right here, right now to America," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH, said in a news release issued by the organization.

"Infectious diseases can come without warning, crossing borders, 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 st
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