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Managing epidemics: an argument against blanket job cuts

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By Merilee Dannemann

The unvaccinated woman got on a plane in London. She flew to Washington, D.C., changed planes and flew to Denver, then on to Albuquerque, and from there drove home to Santa Fe.  She had measles.  
During the trip, she exposed other passengers from all over the world to this disease.
Preventing an epidemic involved 70 countries and four states, and cost $1 million, according to Dr. Chad Smelser, an epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health.
A few other thought-provoking highlights from a recent presentation by Smelser:
More than half (54 percent) of all U.S.-reported plague cases are in New Mexico. Fortunately, the national totals are extremely small — 437 total cases reported in the 30-year period from 1970 to 2009. That’s more than enough for such a dreaded disease, wouldn’t you say?
A nasty intestinal disease called cryptosporidiosis infected a number of teenagers in 2008. It was traced back to a single statewide swimming meet.
Apparently, a little case of the runs is not enough to keep some competitive swimmers out of the pool.
A number of people, all related, became ill with a rare disease called tick-borne relapsing fever.   


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