Annals of Internal Medicine
5 December 2017 Vol: 167, Issue 11
What Recent History Has Taught Us About Responding to Emerging Infectious Disease Threats
Catharine I. Paules, MD; Robert W. Eisinger, PhD; Hilary D. Marston, MD, MPH; Anthony S. Fauci, MD
Presidential administrations face any number of unexpected crises during their tenure, and global pandemics are among the most challenging. As of January 2017, one of the authors had served under 5 presidents as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. During each administration, the government faced unexpected pandemics, ranging from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which began during the Reagan administration, to the recent Zika outbreak in the Americas, which started during the Obama administration. These experiences underscored the need to optimize preparation for and response to these threats whenever and wherever they emerge. This article recounts selected outbreaks occurring during this period and highlights lessons that were learned that can be applied to the infectious disease threats that will inevitably be faced in the current presidential administration and beyond.