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Report offers action plan for curbing diseases that kill millions

Washington D.C.October 10, 2002-- In the next 15 seconds, a child somewhere in the world will die from diarrheal disease. It is estimated that between 6-60 billion cases of gastrointestinal illness occur worldwide every year.

Research has shown that every person is likely to get sick from an intestinal bacteria, virus or parasite at some point. Cases range from the "upset stomachs" that affect basically healthy people to serious infections of the digestive, nervous, and respiratory systems and the skin, eyes and muscles that lead to countless premature deaths in the developing world.

The global burden--the sum total of the incidence, severity, and duration of these illnesses--is addressed in "Resolving the Global Burden of Gastrointestinal Illness: A Call to Action." The new report from the American Academy of Microbiology focuses on understanding the threat these diseases pose to public health and what can be done about it.

By and large, the organisms that live in the intestine are introduced to the environment through human and animal waste. Although some of these enteric pathogens cannot survive long outside their host, many have developed mechanisms to live for days or months in and around the villages, towns, and cities where people have lived for centuries. Exposure to fecal contamination of the environment remains a leading cause of disease in the 21st century.

"Resolving the Global Burden of Gastrointestinal Illness: A Call to Action," takes a look at modes of transmission of gastrointestinal illness, data collection and disease monitoring issues, and the impacts of economic development and proper sanitation. The report presents the conclusions of twenty-four (24) prominent, international scientists with expertise in microbiology, infectious diseases, water safety, pollution, and public health. The group came together to discuss the current state of knowledge in the field and make recommendations for allocating resources to lesse
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Contact: Andrea Lohse
alohse@asmusa.org
202-942-9292
American Society for Microbiology
14-Oct-2002


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