One of the first things I heard when I moved to New Mexico was a kind of ironic joke: NM, the land of the flea and the home of the plague.
That sounds ominous, but the reality is not all bad. NM does harbor the insects and varmints that are disease carriers, and it does have more plague cases than most other states in America. But the numbers are very small. Since plague season started in April 2015, there have been eleven cases of plague in six states and two of them occurred here in NM.
Because of the persistence of these rare cases, the Land of Enchantment attracts a lot of ambitious researchers in infectious diseases, and the ID Department at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque is, I have been reliably told, one of its strongest.
That’s the good news.
Here are three things you need to know about infectious disease. (1) Almost all infectious disease can be prevented. (2) Every year, infectious diseases make millions of Americans sick, and (3) America’s economic losses from infectious diseases runs to billions of dollars a year.
That’s why, a new report by The Trust for America’s Health, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says the country and its states need to upgrade its investment and systems for preventing, treating and monitoring infectious diseases.
Richard Hamburg is Deputy Director at TFAH. He oversees public policy initiatives, advocacy campaigns, and internal operations and has more than 25 years of experience as a leading health policy advocate. He has led TFAH’s efforts to ensure disease prevention is a centerpiece of health reform, and has been instrumental in TFAH’s work on obesity prevention, building national pandemic flu and public health emergency response capabilities, and increasing support for public health priorities and budgets.