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Hubris: The Recurring Pandemic

  • Tom Koch (a1)

The 2014 Ebola outbreak has been seen by many as a “perfect storm” and an “unprecedented” public health calamity. This article attempts to place this most current of epidemics, one currently struggling for pandemic status, in an historical frame. At least since the 1600s protocols and programs for the containment of epidemic disease have been known, and mapped. And yet it was almost six months after warnings about this epidemic were first sounded that incomplete programs of control and surveillance were instituted. In effect, we have forgotten the basics of what was once common knowledge in public health. Having placed our faith in bacteriology, virology, and pharmacology, we have forgotten the lessons learned, long ago. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1-6)

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Correspondence and reprint requests to Tom Koch, c/o 136 Hammersmith Ave, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E 2W6 (e-mail:
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3. T. Koch K. Denike Certainty, uncertainty, and the spatiality of disease a West Nile Virus example. Stoch Enriron Res Risk Assess 2007;21:523-531.

20 PJ. Hotez America’s most distressed areas and their neglected infections: the United States Gulf Coast and the District of Columbia. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011;5(3):e843. Accessed September 13, 2013.

21. PJ. Hotez , KO. Murray , P. Buekens The Gulf Coast: a new american underbelly of tropical diseases and poverty. PloS Negl Trop Dis. 2014;8(5):e2760. Accessed June 4, 2014.

25. DG. Bausch , L. Schwarz Outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea: where ecology meets economy. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2014;8(7):E3056. Accessed September 13, 2014.

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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
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