The 20th century re-emergence of epidemic infectious diseases: lessons learned and future prospects

Duane J Gubler
Med J Aust 2012; 196 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja12.10104
Published online: 19 March 2012

Decades of population growth, globalisation and complacency are driving new epidemics

Unexpected plagues of epidemic infectious diseases have entered human history for centuries, often with devastating consequences. With good public health and the advent of new drugs, vaccines and insecticides in the middle of the 20th century, most major infectious diseases affecting human health were effectively controlled. However, epidemic infectious diseases have dramatically re-emerged in the past 30 years. The frequency of epidemics caused by newly emerging and re-emerging pathogens, and the likelihood of rapid global spread, have also increased, as illustrated by high-profile epidemics caused by zoonotic pathogens in recent years.

  • Duane J Gubler

  • Emerging Infectious Diseases Program, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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