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Pathology and emerging infections--quo vadimus?

  • D. A. Schwartz
  • R. T. Bryan
  • J. M. Hughes
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1995
  • Biology
  • Medicine


There have been dramatic changes in the occurrence of infectious diseases throughout the world in the previous two decades. The emergence of new microbial agents, and the reemergence of infections previously believed to be controlled, threatens the health of all populations. The emergence of these infectious diseases has occurred during a period of breakdown in the capabilities of the public health surveillance systems, prevention programs, and disease control efforts. Expertise in pathology is critical to provide a strong national control program for emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. Despite the many significant achievements made by pathologists in improving understanding of the pathogenesis and diagnosis of infectious diseases, the field of pathology remains largely oriented toward neoplastic diseases, and has not yet identified infectious disease diagnosis as an important component of anatomic pathology training and research, even in the face of the current threats posed by microbial agents. In addition, there is currently a dearth of infectious disease pathologists in the United States and elsewhere in the world, and the use of the autopsy, a prime pathological tool for diagnosis of emerging infections, is on the wane. The most serious problem is that no formal training program for infectious disease pathology currently exists in the United States or elsewhere in the world. As a consequence of this lack of training opportunities, there is a severe deficiency of young, well-educated pathologists with infectious disease expertise. This article explores the historical linkages between the disciplines of infectious diseases and pathology, and suggests that infectious disease pathology as a subspecialty be strengthened and training programs be initiated.

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