Of Germs and Borders
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In some respects, the epidemic of ‘firsts’ discussed in Chapter 1 is misleading. What transpired in the SARS outbreak has frequently happened in the past — a new pathogenic microbe emerged in humans, spread to other countries through international trade and travel, caused economic, political, and social disruption, and revealed weaknesses in, or the nonexistence of, public health capabilities. The great cliché of infectious disease control — germs do not recognize borders — applies to earlier outbreaks as equally as it applies to SARS. Public health experts could be forgiven for experiencing déjà vu as the SARS outbreak unfolded.