Now more than ever the reality of an interconnected world means there is a desperate need to identify and flatten the spread of emerging outbreaks quickly in order to prevent worldwide pandemics. Viral pandemics are an emerging threat to national security and the global economy.
Examples of recent viral outbreaks include:
- Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)
- MERS 2012
- SARS 2003
- Influenza viruses (Bird flu H7N9 2013, and Swine flu H1N1 2009)
- Filoviruses (Zika 2015 and Ebola 2013)
Unlike bacterial based infections, which have a range of antibiotic based treatment options, new viral infections have limited treatment options requiring prevention and containment using quarantines and vaccination to keep the populous safe.
Pandemics are large-scale outbreaks of infectious disease that can greatly increase morbidity and mortality over a wide geographic area and cause significant economic, social, and political disruption. The occurrence and severity of viral outbreaks has only increased over the past century as the world has become more interconnected with global travel, increased population density because of urbanization, and changes in land use.