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The global community has suffered recently from newly emerged infectious diseases and from diseases once thought to be in decline. It now faces the threat of a human influenza pandemic arising from the recently emerged avian influenza H5N1 virus. The pace of global travel, migration, and commerce has increased dramatically in recent decades, elevating the risk of a global infectious disease outbreak. The spread of infectious disease can have significant effects on U.S. and world security, destabilizing nations and regions through direct mortality and morbidity, resulting in staggering economic and social loss. Collection and analysis of information about the worldwide incidence of infectious disease is imperative for the United States to understand and respond to disease threats. This study, conducted from July through October 2005, examines infectious disease within the context of national security and assesses the need for and adequacy of information that will enable U.S. policymakers to prevent and respond to such threats. At the center of this research is a review of the link between infectious disease and national security, as well as interviews with policymakers and other stakeholders to assess their information needs. This report includes a list of sources providing public health information and surveillance of infectious diseases worldwide.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Background: Challenges of and Responses to Infectious Disease Threats

  • Chapter Three

    Addressing a New Paradigm: Infectious Disease and National Security

  • Chapter Four

    Defining Information Needs: Interviews with Stakeholders

  • Chapter Five

    Assessing the Adequacy of Current Information: A Survey of Online Sources

  • Chapter Six

    Synthesis, Conclusions, and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Organizations Interviewed

  • Appendix B

    Interview Guide

  • Appendix C

    List of Online Sources

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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