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

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems: BioWatch and the Public Health System—Interim Report (2009)

For many years, concerns about bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases have drawn attention to the need for strong surveillance systems. Experts are working to develop new and better ways to detect these biological threats as quickly as possible. One effort in this area is the Department of Homeland Security's BioWatch program.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the BioWatch program, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council convened the Committee on Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems: BioWatch and the Public Health System. This interim report contains no findings or recommendations but outlines the committee's initial progress.

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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.