The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Ethical and Legal Considerations in Mitigating Pandemic Disease—Workshop Summary (2007)

When designing effective response plans to deal with natural disasters and public health emergencies, policymakers must have the information and foresight to design ethical strategies that will help the community as a whole without compromising the civil rights and liberties of individuals. In September of 2006, the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Microbial Threats convened a workshop to discuss the various ethical considerations needed to design effective response strategies for future infectious disease pandemics. Participants first reviewed responses to the past influenza, smallpox, and SARS epidemics. They then examined ethical and legal issues that need to be addressed in current and future preparations for pandemic disease, such as the vulnerability of health care workers, the responsibility of countries to stop the spread of disease without harming trade, the responsibility of the individual to agree to vaccines and quarantine, and the provision of equal access to health care to all. Ethical and Legal Considerations in Mitigating Pandemic Disease summarizes this workshop.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: The only way public health agencies can deal with infectious disease is to have good surveillance in place, wait for an outbreak to happen in a human population, and then rush to contain it.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By identifying pathogens in the animals where they naturally live and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations.

  • Correct!

    By identifying pathogens in the animals where they naturally live and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations.