Pandemic Preparedness on Campus

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Many institutions of higher learning actively promote programs that bring foreign students and scholars to their campuses. These institutions also encourage their own students, faculty, and staff to travel internationally in order to foster professional growth and advancement. University campus populations, especially those located in smaller communities can represent significant proportions of the total population of a community and may influence the dynamics and progression of an epidemic. Therefore, it is important that community emergency response plans include their local campuses.

Disease epidemics have caused more deaths throughout the millennia than all the death resulting from war. Continued global population growth and worldwide ecological degradation are creating conditions that promote the emergence and spread of new diseases. It is becoming obvious that the ability of microbes to adapt and overcome our traditional defenses, coupled with changes in society, technology, and the environment, can lead to global epidemics reminiscent of the worst in history. In addition, terrorists with some basic knowledge of molecular biology and available funding to produce weapons of mass destruction can wage biological warfare on cities, regions, and even the entire planet. It is important that we begin developing systematic, community-based, response strategies and emergency preparedness plans that will allow us to counteract such dangers in a well thought-out, timely, and effective manner.

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