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Protecting Our Nation's Health in an Era of Globalization: CDC's Global Infectious Disease Strategy
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Priority Area 3: Applied Research on Diseases of Global Importance

Life cycle of West Nile virus. West Nile encephalitis—which is carried by birds in Asia, Africa, and Europe and spread to humans by mosquito bite—has been recognized as a U.S. health threat since 1999. CDC is working with colleagues in Australia, the Czech Republic, France, Israel, Romania, and Russia to study the epidemiology, ecology, and pathogenesis of the West Nile virus and find ways to prevent and control its transmission.

From CDC's West Nile Web site.

West Nile lifecycle

CDC’s researchers have a dual role. They not only identify the microbes, risk factors, and epidemiologic conditions that lead to outbreaks, but also conduct applied research on ways to detect, prevent, and control them. Maintaining a comprehensive diagnostic and investigative capacity goes hand-in-hand with maintaining a broad-based research program on endemic and epidemic diseases that includes studies in applied epidemiology, microbiology, and behavioral and social science.

A research program on diseases that are uncommon in the United States is a valuable resource, both for humanitarian reasons and because of the dangers represented by some imported diseases. Had scientists begun to study “slim disease”—now known as AIDS—when the syndrome was described in central Africa in the late 1970s,12 the world health community might have learned much earlier how HIV is acquired and what can be done to prevent its spread.

An in-depth knowledge of a wide range of infectious pathogens can also facilitate the identification and characterization of new microbes that emerge in the United States. One example concerns hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), an often-fatal disease first identified in 1993 in the Four Corners region of the United States. In 1993 hantavirus research was a low priority in the United States, because hantavirus-associated disease had never before been recognized in the Western Hemisphere. However, a few laboratories supported by DoD had continued to collect information on a hantaviral disease called Korean hemorrhagic fever or hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) that killed a significant number of United Nations troops during the Korean Conflict. Because of these HFRS studies, the CDC outbreak team in Four Corners was armed with sophisticated serologic and molecular tools that allowed them to diagnose HPS in a short time. Because it was known that the HFRS hantavirus is transmitted by rodents, the team rapidly honed in on the animal reservoir of the HPS virus and provided disease prevention guidelines to the people in the area.

Several fundamental precepts inform CDC’s infectious disease research collaborations with other countries. First, the overriding purpose of CDC’s research work overseas is to lead the way in demonstrating how individuals and governments can best prevent and control disease. Second, it is important for CDC to help strengthen international research capacity by supporting extramural research at home and abroad, through collaborations, cooperative agreements, and peer-reviewed grants. Third, CDC’s research activities must be rooted in bioethical principles, respecting the needs and rights of human research subjects. Fourth, CDC must strive to engage new research partners, in addition to its traditional partners at universities and schools of public health. Research collaborators may include scientists from private companies, NGOs, and other U.S. agencies (e.g., NIH, FDA, DoD, NASA, NOAA, and USDA).

  Box 16
  A Growing Community of International Public Health Leaders

Long-term, on-site research collaborations are especially important, because it is often very difficult to study new and hazardous pathogens while an outbreak is in progress. Long-term partnerships with in-country research institutions may be mutually beneficial, facilitating collaborative field research and clinical studies, providing opportunities for technology transfer and training, and building international friendships and trust within the scientific and public health communities.

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Booklet Contents
item Contributors
item Table of Contents
item Preface
item Executive Summary
item Introduction
item International Cooperation To Combat Infectious Diseases
item U.S. Investment in Global Public Health
item Protecting the health of U.S. citizens at home and abroad
item Furthering U.S. humanitarian efforts
item Providing economic and diplomatic benefits
item Enhancing security
item CDC's Role in Promoting Global Public Health
item An evolving mission
item Vision for the Future
item Partnerships and Implementation
item Priorities and Objectives
1. International Outbreak Assistance
item Objectives
2. A Global Approach to Disease Surveillance
item Objectives
3. Applied Research on Diseases of Global Importance
item Objectives
4. Application of Proven Public Health Tools
item Objectives
5. Global Initiatives for Disease Control
item Objectives
6. Public Health Training and Capacity Building
item Objectives
item List of Boxes
item Acronyms
item Appendix A
item Appendix B
item Appendix C
item Appendix D
item Appendix E
item Acknowledgments
item References

Downloadable Adobe Acrobat Reader version of the Strategic Plan (495 KB)

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Date published: 2002

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