Infectious Disease

Infectious diseases – most of which are preventable – disrupt the lives of millions of Americans every year and have a significant financial impact.  For example, it is estimated that seasonal flu costs the nation approximately $87 billion dollars in medical spending and lost work productivity annually.  Despite this serious and sometimes deadly impact,  investments in infectious disease prevention and control ebb and flow in response to outbreaks.  Recent examples include the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the more recent Zika outbreak. Influenza, antibiotic resistant super bugs and food borne illnesses are additional concerns.

Heightened attention to a disease during an outbreak is necessary, but the best way to prevent infectious disease is through sustained attention to the causes of the illness and how it spreads, and investment in prevention programs. Emergencies and new threats are inevitable; currently, many communities do not have the built-in capacity to respond to new or surge needs. Too often, arising emergencies take funding and attention from other public health needs.

Read TFAH’s report, Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, 2019.


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