High-risk disease outbreaks are a real and growing threat to U.S. national security at home and abroad.

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Quick Overview

High-risk disease outbreaks are a real and growing threat. HIV. Ebola. Marburg fever. SARS. MERS. Zika. These are just a few of the 39 new natural infectious diseases that have been detected since the 1970s—even as pandemic influenza remains a persistent threat. High-risk infectious diseases like these can spread quickly, rapidly sicken large numbers of people, and escalate into regional epidemics or a global pandemic. The deliberate introduction of a biological agent (such as smallpox, anthrax, or a synthesized or genetically engineered pathogen) into a population presents a further threat. That’s not to mention the difficulty of anticipating unknown disease threats (“Disease X”) that cannot easily be identified or characterized.

High-risk disease outbreaks pose major scientific and institutional challenges, including: the rapidly changing nature of infectious disease, the science of response, limited domestic capacity, and the economic cost of inaction. Vulnerability to outbreaks at home and abroad is a threat to national security. It is in the U.S. national interest to strengthen domestic response and coordination and to work systematically with other countries on improving preparedness and supporting health security abroad.

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