Category Archives: General Topics

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The Institute of Medicine on the US Measles Outbreak

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Photo credit: KidRisk.org

MMR – measles, mumps, rubella – vaccination is again in the news as an outbreak of measles that began at Disneyland before Christmas has spread to six states. As of last Friday, 70 people have been diagnosed with measles, and hundreds more have been exposed at schools, doctor’s offices, hospitals, shopping malls and other places visited by infected patients. Arizona reported its first case of measles related to Disneyland when a woman in her 50s was diagnosed. The outbreak has spread to Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and across the border to Mexico. The Institute of Medicine has produced a number of reports on the safety and importance of vaccination. We asked Kathleen Stratton, an Institute of Medicine Scholar and Study Director of several notable IOM reports on vaccines, for her thoughts on vaccination and public health.

“Vaccines save lives. That’s a fact. We need vaccines developed against some very serious infectious diseases, like respiratory syncytial virus, and we need everyone to heed advice regarding existing vaccines, like the measles vaccine.”

The reports below and others on the subject of vaccination are free to download from our website.

The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies

Vaccines are among the most safe and effective public health interventions to prevent serious disease and death. Because of the success of vaccines, most Americans today have no firsthand experience with such devastating illnesses as polio or …

[more]

Infectious Disease Movement in a Borderless World: Workshop Summary

Modern transportation allows people, animals, and plants–and the pathogens they carry–to travel more easily than ever before. The ease and speed of travel, tourism, and international trade connect once-remote areas with one another, eliminating …

[more]

What You Need to Know About Infectious Disease

About a quarter of deaths worldwide–many of them children–are caused by infectious organisms. The World Health Organization reports that new infectious diseases are continuing to emerge and familiar ones are appearing in new locations around …

[more]

Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality

In 1900, for every 1,000 babies born in the United States, 100 would die before their first birthday, often due to infectious diseases. Today, vaccines exist for many viral and bacterial diseases. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, passed …

[more]

Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism

This eighth and final report of the Immunization Safety Review Committee examines the hypothesis that vaccines, specifically the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines, are causally associated with autism. The …

[more]

Metro Emergencies and the Importance of Underground Engineering

metro-train-l-enfant-plaza-station-washington-dc
Photo credit: latinpost.com

Many issues brought to national attention following the recent fatal smoke event in the Washington, DC underground Metro system have been discussed in the National Research Council report Underground Engineering for Sustainable Development. Smoke and fire represent one of the greatest hazards to health and safety in underground infrastructure. This report includes discussion of how fire and smoke spread easily through tunnel systems and how underground ventilation systems must be able to provide breathable air and remove hazardous gases.

We asked Sammantha Magsino, the Study Director of Underground Engineering, for her thoughts on how the report speaks to the recent rail incident:

Strategic decisions must be made related to alarm and exiting systems, entry systems for emergency personnel, and safety procedures to ensure both occupant and emergency responder safety. Such decisions must optimize human-technical relationships and provide at least minimum levels of safety consistent with long-term societal visions. Underground Engineering stresses that underground infrastructure is part of a system of surface and subsurface engineered and human systems that needs to be designed, built, operated, maintained, and used with due accounting of technical aspects of the infrastructure, as well as in consideration of human behaviors, physiology, performance capacity, and the necessary education and training for safe and effective human use. The failure of any element of the system can result in cascading failures of other system elements, and can put the whole system at risk. Risk in underground infrastructure, however, often does not receive the same levels of regulatory scrutiny as risk in surface infrastructure, and safety codes are often written in response to events rather than the thorough study of risk/

Underground Engineering includes overarching observations, conclusions, and potential actions in practice, education, and research that would encourage integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to underground infrastructure design, management, technology development, and safety.

Underground Engineering for Sustainable Urban Development

For thousands of years, the underground has provided humans refuge, useful resources, physical support for surface structures, and a place for spiritual or artistic expression. More recently, many urban services have been placed underground. Over this time, humans have rarely considered how underground space can contribute to or be engineered to maximize its contribution to the sustainability of society. As human activities begin to change the planet and population struggle to maintain …

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California’s New Year’s Energy Resolutions

Last week California’s Governor Brown announced new energy goals for the state in his inaugural address. By 2030, the state is striving to:

1) Increase from 30% to 50% the amount of electricity derived from renewable resources
2) Reduce petroleum consumption by cars and trucks by 50%
3) Double the efficiency of existing buildings

Is this possible? How will it affect consumers, producers, and the environment? Our titles discuss technology to increase efficiency, ways to reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in cars and trucks, and options for renewable energy sources.

Building the U.S. Battery Industry for Electric Drive Vehicles: Summary of a Symposium (2012)

$49.00
ISBN 978-0-309-25452-6

Since 1991, the National Research Council, under the auspices of the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, has undertaken a program of activities to improve policymakers’ understandings of the interconnections of science, technology, …

[more]

Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels in the United States (2012)

$64.00
ISBN 978-0-309-26032-9

Biofuels made from algae are gaining attention as a domestic source of renewable fuel. However, with current technologies, scaling up production of algal biofuels to meet even 5 percent of U.S. transportation fuel needs could create unsustainable …

[more]

Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels (2013)

$59.00
ISBN 978-0-309-26852-3

For a century, almost all light-duty vehicles (LDVs) have been powered by internal combustion engines operating on petroleum fuels. Energy security concerns about petroleum imports and the effect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on global …

[more]

Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles (2010)

$50.00
ISBN 978-0-309-14982-2

Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles evaluates various technologies and methods that could improve the fuel economy of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, …

[more]

Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States (2010)

$49.95
ISBN 978-0-309-13716-4

America’s economy and lifestyles have been shaped by the low prices and availability of energy. In the last decade, however, the prices of oil, natural gas, and coal have increased dramatically, leaving consumers and the industrial and service …

[more]

America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation (2009)

$69.95
ISBN 978-0-309-11602-2

For multi-user PDF licensing, please contact customer service.

Energy touches our lives in countless ways and its costs are felt when we fill up at the gas pump, pay our home heating …

[more]

Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Status, Costs, and Environmental Impacts (2009)

$49.95
ISBN 978-0-309-13712-6

The transportation sector cannot continue on its current path: The volatility of oil prices threatens the U.S. economy, the large proportion of oil importation threatens U.S. energy security, and the massive contribution of greenhouse …

[more]

Denmark Claims a Share of the Scientific Potential and Economic Promise of the Arctic

The Arctic is one of the last unknown places on this planet. Last week it made news, as Denmark made a claim to the region, which is also of interest to Canada, Russia, the United States, and Norway. According to a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic Circle might hide between 13 and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources under a thick layer of ice. Climate change and the melting of glaciers are expected to make those resources accessible to drilling and mining faster than expected. Melting ice could also open new transport routes and benefit those who control them.

The climate, biology, and society in the Arctic are changing in rapid, complex, and interactive ways. Understanding the Arctic system has never been more critical; thus, Arctic research has never been more important.

The video below highlights findings of The Arctic in the Anthropocene, a report that identifies emerging research questions to help us understand how environmental and societal transitions will affect the Arctic and the rest of the world.

You can also watch videos for two of our other reports, Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment and Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change.

National Research Council reports explore impacts of abrupt climate change in this region, opportunities for research, and how to prepare for possible environmental damage from increased oil and gas operations. All are free to download.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises (2013)

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-309-28773-9

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that …

[more]

The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions (2014)

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-309-30183-1

Once ice-bound, difficult to access, and largely ignored by the rest of the world, the Arctic is now front and center in the midst of many important questions facing the world today. Our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all …

[more]

Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment (2014)

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-309-29886-5

U.S. Arctic waters north of the Bering Strait and west of the Canadian border encompass a vast area that is usually ice covered for much of the year, but is increasingly experiencing longer periods and larger areas of open water due to climate …

[more]

National Security Implications of Climate Change for U.S. Naval Forces (2011)

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-309-15425-3

In response to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the National Research Council appointed a committee operating under the auspices of the Naval Studies Board to study the national security implications of climate change for U.S. naval forces. …

[more]

Opportunities to Use Remote Sensing in Understanding Permafrost and Related Ecological Characteristics: Report of a Workshop (2014)

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-309-30121-3

Permafrost is a thermal condition — its formation, persistence and disappearance are highly dependent on climate. General circulation models predict that, for a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, mean annual air …

[more]

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-309-30188-6

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on …

[more]

Seasonal-to-Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies (2012)

Paperback
ISBN 978-0-309-26526-3

Recent well documented reductions in the thickness and extent of Arctic sea ice cover, which can be linked to the warming climate, are affecting the global climate system and are also affecting the global economic system as marine access to the …

[more]

Sony Hack Emphasizes Need for Improved Cybersecurity

Last month’s hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment has highlighted the vulnerability of companies to cyberattack. The hackers stole confidential documents, deleted the originals, and left threatening messages. With the computers unusable even days after the attack, employees resorted to using white boards to do their work. Meanwhile, the hackers released the confidential documents to journalists, and five Sony movies to the public at large.

The Sony hack clearly demonstrates a need for improved cybersecurity. Governments are not the only ones vulnerable, and state secrets are not the only targets. To learn more about how we can prevent future cyberattacks with improved security, check out our Cybersecurity Collection:

 

At the Nexus of Cybersecurity and Public Policy: Some Basic Concepts and Issues

We depend on information and information technology (IT) to make many of our day-to-day tasks easier and more convenient. Computers play key roles in transportation, health care, banking, and energy. Businesses use IT for payroll and accounting, inventory and sales, and research and development. Modern military forces use weapons that are increasingly coordinated through computer-based networks. Cybersecurity is vital to protecting all of …

[more]

Toward a Safer and More Secure Cyberspace

Given the growing importance of cyberspace to nearly all aspects of national life, a secure cyberspace is vitally important to the nation, but cyberspace is far from secure today. The United States faces the real risk that adversaries will exploit vulnerabilities in the nation s critical information systems, thereby causing considerable suffering and damage. Online e-commerce business, government agency files, and identity records are all …

[more]

Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities

The United States is increasingly dependent on information and information technology for both civilian and military purposes, as are many other nations. Although there is a substantial literature on the potential impact of a cyberattack on the societal infrastructure of the United States, little has been written about the use of cyberattack as an instrument of U.S. policy. …

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Toward Better Usability, Security, and Privacy of Information Technology: Report of a Workshop

Despite many advances, security and privacy often remain too complex for individuals or enterprises to manage effectively or to use conveniently. Security is hard for users, administrators, and developers to understand, making it all too easy to use, configure, or operate systems in ways that are inadvertently insecure. Moreover, security and privacy technologies originally were developed in a context in which system administrators had …

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What Science Says About Fair and Effective Law Enforcement

The Ferguson case and nationwide public reaction have highlighted very different views of policing among the public. The National Research Council’s 2004 report Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence addressed these concerns.

From the report:

“Policing is primarily shaped by two public expectations. First, the police are called on to deal with crime and disorder, preventing them when possible, and to bring to account those who disobey the law. Second, the public expects their police to be impartial, producing justice through the fair, effective, and restrained use of their authority. The standards by which the public judges police success in meeting these expectations have become more exacting and challenging, and police agencies today must find ways to respond in an effective, affordable, and legitimate way.”

A scientific knowledge base exists for helping communities to decide what strategies to use to reduce crime and disorder while increasing police legitimacy. Recommendations of Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing provide guidance for creating more effective, fair, efficient, and accountable policing in the 21st century. This report and other reports in our Law and Justice Collection evaluate the evidence base and recommend best practices for policing, evidence collection and processing, and eyewitness identification. All are free to download.

Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence (2004)


ISBN 978-0-309-28965-8

Because police are the most visible face of government power for most citizens, they are expected to deal effectively with crime and disorder and to be impartial. Producing justice through the fair, and restrained use of their authority. The …

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Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification (2014)


ISBN 978-0-309-31059-8

Eyewitnesses play an important role in criminal cases when they can identify culprits. Estimates suggest that tens of thousands of eyewitnesses make identifications in criminal investigations each year. Research on factors that affect the …

[more]

Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009)


ISBN 978-0-309-13130-8

Scores of talented and dedicated people serve the forensic science community, performing vitally important work. However, they are often constrained by lack of adequate resources, sound policies, and national support. It is clear that change and …

[more]

Forensic Analysis Weighing Bullet Lead Evidence (2004)


ISBN 978-0-309-09079-7

Since the 1960s, testimony by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in thousands of criminal cases has relied on evidence from Compositional Analysis of Bullet Lead (CABL), a forensic technique that compares the elemental …

[more]

The Evaluation of Forensic DNA Evidence (1996)


ISBN 978-0-309-12194-1

In 1992 the National Research Council issued DNA Technology in Forensic Science, a book that documented the state of the art in this emerging field. Recently, this volume was brought to worldwide attention in the murder trial of celebrity O. …

[more]

DNA Technology in Forensic Science (1992)


ISBN 978-0-309-04587-2

Matching DNA samples from crime scenes and suspects is rapidly becoming a key source of evidence for use in our justice system. DNA Technology in Forensic Science offers recommendations for resolving crucial questions that are emerging as DNA …

[more]

Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence: Third Edition (2011)


ISBN 978-0-309-21421-6

The Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Third Edition, assists judges in managing cases involving complex scientific and technical evidence by describing the basic tenets of key scientific fields from which legal evidence is typically …

[more]

The Best Solution to Combined Sewer Overflow May be the Sustainable One

During a bad storm in the Detroit area in August, an estimated 4.5 billion gallons of sewage entered the water supply when the combined sewer systems overflowed. Such overflows can pose a risk to human health and aquatic life as they send chemicals and untreated sewage straight into the nearest body of water.

epa diagram

This diagram from the EPA shows how combined sewer systems can overflow during heavy rain

Traditionally, local governments and regulatory agencies have favored “gray infrastructure,” which includes sewer separation, storage tunnels, and additional treatment units. However, the cost of building an infrastructure with sufficient capacity to avoid CSO’s during unusually large storm events can exceed the point of commensurate benefits, such as the amount of risk reduction expected over a certain period.

epa_permeable_pavement
Permeable pavement, which allows water to reach the ground beneath

As an alternative approach, the EPA is starting to encourage “green infrastructure” — methods such as constructed wetlands, rainwater harvesting, and pervious or porous pavements — to provide a wider range of benefits to the community and the environment. Green infrastructure can also help air pollution, energy use, habitat connectivity, and even the economy.

The recent NRC report Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making examines scientific tools and approaches for incorporating sustainability concepts into assessments used to support EPA decision making. Committee Chair Mike Kavanaugh explains, “As discussed in the committee’s report, consideration of the benefits of green infrastructure as part of CSO control planning for the long-term is one of many ways in which EPA and other government agencies can incorporate sustainability concepts into decision-making.”

Further explore sustainability with these reports from the National Research Council. All are free to download.

Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency

In its current strategic plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes a cross-agency strategy to advance sustainable environmental outcomes and optimize economic and social outcomes through Agency decisions and actions. Sustainability has evolved from an aspiration to a growing body of practices. The evolution includes a transition from the development of broad goals toward the implementation of specific policies and programs for achieving them and the use of indicators and …

[more]

Sustainability and the U.S. EPA

Sustainability is based on a simple and long-recognized factual premise: Everything that humans require for their survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on the natural environment. The environment provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

Recognizing the importance of sustainability to its work, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to create programs and applications in a variety of areas to better incorporate …

[more]

Science for Environmental Protection: The Road Ahead

In anticipation of future environmental science and engineering challenges and technologic advances, EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to assess the overall capabilities of the agency to develop, obtain, and use the best available scientific and technologic information and tools to meet persistent, emerging, and future mission challenges and opportunities. Although the committee cannot predict with certainty what new environmental problems EPA will face in the next 10 years or …

[more]

Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connection and Governance Linkages

A “sustainable society,” according to one definition, “is one that can persist over generations; one that is far-seeing enough, flexible enough, and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or its social system of support.” As the government sector works hard to ensure sufficient fresh water, food, energy, housing, health, and education for the nation without limiting resources for the future generations, it’s clear that there is no sufficient organization to deal with sustainability …

[more]

Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment

Risk assessment has become a dominant public policy tool for making choices, based on limited resources, to protect public health and the environment. It has been instrumental to the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as other federal agencies in evaluating public health concerns, informing regulatory and technological decisions, prioritizing research needs and funding, and in developing approaches for cost-benefit analysis.

However, risk assessment is …

[more]

What’s Up with Shale Gas? Science to Inform Debate and Decisions

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Shale gas is providing an increasing share of U.S. natural gas production. In 2010, 20% of the nation’s natural gas supply came from shale gas. Experts predict that by 2035, as much as 46% of the United States’ supply could come from shale gas. While many people believe that natural gas is a cleaner energy alternative that can ease our dependence on petroleum, others have concerns about the environmental effects of “fracking.” What’s the scientific evidence base for shale energy decision making? How can policy makers account for possible adverse effects? Reports from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine explore these and related topics. All are free to download.

Risks and Risk Governance in Shale Gas Development: Summary of Two Workshops

Natural gas in deep shale formations, which can be developed by hydraulic fracturing and associated technologies (often collectively referred to as “fracking”) is dramatically increasing production of natural gas in the United States, where …

[more]

Health Impact Assessment of Shale Gas Extraction: Workshop Summary

Natural gas extraction from shale formations, which includes hydraulic fracturing, is increasingly in the news as the use of extraction technologies has expanded, rural communities have been transformed seemingly overnight, public awareness has …

[more]

Development of Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources in the Appalachian Basin: Workshop Summary

Development of Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources in the Appalachian Basin is the summary of a workshop convened by the National Research Council to examine the geology and unconventional hydrocarbon resources of the Appalachian Basin; …

[more]

Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies

In the past several years, some energy technologies that inject or extract fluid from the Earth, such as oil and gas development and geothermal energy development, have been found or suspected to cause seismic events, drawing heightened public …

[more]

America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation

For multi-user PDF licensing, please contact customer service.

Energy touches our lives in countless ways and its costs are felt when we fill up at the gas pump, pay our home heating …

[more]

Science to Understand Impacts of Arctic Sea Ice Loss

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This image from the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that Arctic sea ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year as the ice declined to its annual minimum on Sept. 17. Their analysis shows that this year’s minimum extent remains in line with a downward trend; the Arctic Ocean is losing about 13 percent of its sea ice per decade.

According to the National Research Council report, Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change, rapid reduction in Arctic sea ice already qualifies as an abrupt change with substantial decreases in ice extent occurring within the past several decades. Projections from climate models suggest that ice loss will continue in the future, with the full disappearance of late-summer Arctic sea ice possible in the coming decades.

From the report: “The impacts of rapid decreases in Arctic sea ice are likely to be considerable. More open water conditions during summer would have potentially large and irreversible effects on various components of the Arctic ecosystem, including disruptions in the marine food web, shifts in the habitats of some marine mammals, and erosion of vulnerable coastlines. Because the Arctic region interacts with the large-scale circulation systems of the ocean and atmosphere, changes in the extent of sea ice could cause shifts in climate and weather around the northern hemisphere. The Arctic is also a region of increasing economic importance for a diverse range of stakeholders, and reductions in Arctic sea ice will bring new legal and political challenges as navigation routes for commercial shipping open and marine access to the region increases for offshore oil and gas development, tourism, fishing and other activities.”

For more information, check out our reports on the abrupt impacts of climate change and the changing Arctic ecosystem. All are free to download.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises (2013)

$59.95
ISBN 978-0-309-28773-9

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that …

[more]

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

$46.00
ISBN 978-0-309-30188-6

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on …

[more]

The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions (2014)

$65.00
ISBN 978-0-309-30183-1

Once ice-bound, difficult to access, and largely ignored by the rest of the world, the Arctic is now front and center in the midst of many important questions facing the world today. Our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all …

[more]

Responding to Oil Spills in the U.S. Arctic Marine Environment (2014)

$58.00
ISBN 978-0-309-29886-5

U.S. Arctic waters north of the Bering Strait and west of the Canadian border encompass a vast area that is usually ice covered for much of the year, but is increasingly experiencing longer periods and larger areas of open water due to climate …

[more]

Infectious Disease Emergence, Establishment, and Spread – Science to Understand the Ebola Epidemic

As the Ebola epidemic continues, the space in treatment centers and the number of medical personnel is severely outpaced by the number of patients infected with the disease. According to the World Health Organization, “Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially.” The African Union promised last Monday to send at least 100 people to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for a six-month medical support mission. The United States and the United Kingdom will begin providing logistical and operational support. As of this writing, the epidemic has killed at least 2,100 people in five West African countries.

west-africa-distribution-map
This figure from the Centers for Disease Control shows the locations of treatment centers in comparison to the areas affected by the outbreak.


What do we know about global readiness and capacity for surveillance, detection, and response to emerging microbial threats to plant, animal, and human health? To get a scientific perspective, we asked Dr. Eileen Choffnes, with the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Board on Global Health, for her thoughts.

“The 2003 IOM report, Microbial Threats to Health, identified changing ecosystems; economic development and land use; climate and weather; and international travel and commerce as ecological and environmental factors that can influence the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. The last several decades have provided ample evidence of the impact of these factors—individually and synergistically—on the ecology of microbes, vectors, and animal reservoirs; the transmissibility of microbes; and the exposure pathways between microorganisms and new hosts. And, despite the International Health Regulations of 2005, the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa has exposed gaping holes in the ability to tackle outbreaks in an increasingly interconnected world, where diseases can quickly spread from remote villages to cities housing millions of people.”

Reports from the IOM’s Forum on Microbial Threats explore the scientific and policy implications of infectious disease emergence, establishment, and spread. All are free to download.

The Influence of Global Environmental Change on Infectious Disease Dynamics: Workshop Summary (2014)


ISBN 978-0-309-30499-3

The twentieth century witnessed an era of unprecedented, large-scale, anthropogenic changes to the natural environment. Understanding how environmental factors directly and indirectly affect the emergence and spread of infectious disease has …

[more]

Microbial Ecology in States of Health and Disease: Workshop Summary (2014)


ISBN 978-0-309-29062-3

Individually and collectively, resident microbes play important roles in host health and survival. Shaping and shaped by their host environments, these microorganisms form intricate communities that are in a state of dynamic equilibrium. This …

[more]

The Social Biology of Microbial Communities: Workshop Summary (2012)


ISBN 978-0-309-26432-7

Beginning with the germ theory of disease in the 19th century and extending through most of the 20th century, microbes were believed to live their lives as solitary, unicellular, disease-causing organisms . This perception stemmed from the focus …

[more]

The Causes and Impacts of Neglected Tropical and Zoonotic Diseases: Opportunities for Integrated Intervention Strategies: Workshop Summary (2011)


ISBN 978-0-309-18634-6

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) afflict more than 1.4 billion people, many of whom live on less than $1.25 a day. While there are effective ways to manage NTDs, policy-makers and funders have only recently begun to recognize the economic and …

[more]

Infectious Disease Movement in a Borderless World: Workshop Summary (2010)


ISBN 978-0-309-14447-6

Modern transportation allows people, animals, and plants–and the pathogens they carry–to travel more easily than ever before. The ease and speed of travel, tourism, and international trade connect once-remote areas with one another, eliminating …

[more]

Global Issues in Water, Sanitation, and Health: Workshop Summary (2009)


ISBN 978-0-309-13872-7

As the human population grows–tripling in the past century while, simultaneously, quadrupling its demand for water–Earth’s finite freshwater supplies are increasingly strained, and also increasingly contaminated by domestic, agricultural, and …

[more]

Vector-Borne Diseases: Understanding the Environmental, Human Health, and Ecological Connections, Workshop Summary (Forum on Microbial Threats) (2008)


ISBN 978-0-309-10897-3

Vector-borne infectious diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and plague, cause a significant fraction of the global infectious disease burden; indeed, nearly half of the world’s population is infected with at least one type of …

[more]

Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response (2003)


ISBN 978-0-309-27875-1

Infectious diseases are a global hazard that puts every nation and every person at risk. The recent SARS outbreak is a prime example. Knowing neither geographic nor political borders, often arriving silently and lethally, microbial pathogens …

[more]