Trump Budget Eliminates Sentinel Against Global Viral Threats

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    Mar 18, 2017 1:16 AM GMT
    NYT: Nobody in the United States has ever died from an intercontinental missile strike. Over the past 50 years, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on silos, submarines, bombers and satellites to ensure that does not happen.

    During the same period, about 1.3 million Americans have died from intercontinental virus strikes. The toll includes one American dead of Ebola, 2,000 dead of West Nile virus, 700,000 dead of AIDS, and 1.2 million dead of flu — a virus that returns from abroad each winter.

    The federal budget to stop these threats is infinitely smaller than the Pentagon’s, and the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health, and particularly its plan to eliminate the Fogarty International Center at the N.I.H., would, global health experts say, make America vulnerable again.

    The idea of eliminating the center “is just atrocious,” said Dr. Daniel G. Bausch, a Tulane University virologist and the scientific program director at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. “It would have a severe impact not just on global health but on American health.”

    New viral threats are constant. Pathogens like SARS, MERS, dengue and H7N9 avian flu have already probed America’s defenses: Cases have reached these shores in people or in birds, but have not yet killed anyone.
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    Mar 18, 2017 3:00 AM GMT
    And don't forget the Zika virus. Named for the Ugandan forest where it was first detected in 1947. Spread by a mosquito, Miami and Miami Beach had major scares when it was detected, and were put under a travel advisory.

    It doesn't kill, but causes pregnant women bitten by this mosquito to have babies born with serious birth defects. Various degree of microcephaly is most often seen, which is a much smaller than normal size brain, causing intellectual problems. No effective vaccine or cure has yet been found. A peak season in the US was 2015-2016. Republican politicians are confidently claiming it's been totally eradicated. Do they really know?

    Those are the kinds of unpredictable diseases the Trump budget slashes of key CDC operations will fail to adequately warn and protect us against. He's moving us back into the Dark Ages of medical care.