threats—particularly those originating at the global rather than the national level.

The Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health in the 21st Century was charged to identify, review, and assess the current state of knowledge pertaining to the factors in emerging infectious diseases; to assess the capacity of the United States to respond to emerging microbial threats to health; and to identify potential challenges and opportunities for domestic and international public health actions to strengthen the detection and prevention of, and response to, emerging microbial threats. The scope of this report is limited to infectious diseases that have a direct effect on human health. The committee acknowledges that infectious diseases in animals and agriculture can have indirect effects on human health (e.g., reductions in available food sources, economic and psychological hardships in food animal producers due to culling), but limited the scope of the study for practical purposes. The committee’s recommendations are focused on the most urgent and critical issues that need to be addressed immediately if we are to prevent and control microbial threats to human health.

Chapter 2 examines the magnitude of the problem and reviews the spectrum of microbial threats to health. Chapter 3 sets forth the major factors involved in the emergence of a microbial threat and presents a model and case example to illustrate how the complex convergence of these factors can lead to epidemics of disease. Chapter 4 presents the committee’s conclusions and recommendations for improving the U.S. response to infectious agents that threaten not only the health of its citizens, but also the economy, security, and well-being of the world’s population.

The primary aim of this report, therefore, is to extend understanding of the factors involved in the emergence of infectious diseases and of the global context in which this emergence occurs. Containing future epidemics of infectious disease will require that we recognize and respond to microbial threats whenever, and wherever, they occur.

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