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Training Medical Warriors: Tropical Medicine Specialists Who Ward Off Bioterrorist and Global Health Threats Pass the Torch to the Next Generation
Date:11/5/2007

One Society's Mission to Protect World Health

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In 1963, when Karl Johnson, M.D., chose to set up a laboratory in Bolivia for the National Institutes of Health instead of taking a job working on a vaccine for the common cold, little did he know that his research would lay the foundation for the containment of numerous deadly infectious diseases around the world. With just a quick built laboratory, a few microscopes, mosquito nets and syringes, Dr. Johnson and his colleagues were able to identify Machupo virus, a hemorrhagic fever that had reached epidemic proportions in the South American country. More than 30 years later, that break through, along with groundbreaking research on several other viruses, continues to aid scientists to identify and contain life-threatening diseases such as Ebola and Sin Nombre, which have both reached American soil, but thanks to the pioneering research of Dr. Johnson and other global warriors, never reached their potential pandemic proportions.

While many Americans may not recognize these virus names, it is because, in many cases, they are stopped before they ever reached U.S. borders. But, with the spread of diseases such as West Nile virus in the U.S., the urgency to track down and contain infectious diseases at their origins has heightened. The rarely heard of but integral specialty of tropical medicine has for decades been home to key scientists whose work has helped find treatments for and alleviate the spread of infectious diseases around the world. Without these specialists, epidemics of yellow fever, cholera and SARS, may never have been contained or treated, altering the health and welfare of generations.

"We live in a global community with mass import and export of food supplies and extensive travel to foreign lands for both business and pleasure," explains Dr. Johnson. "Therefore, tropical medicine disease specialists are more important n
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SOURCE American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
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