The importance of a robust public health infrastructure is the cornerstone for preparing for and responding to infectious disease threats regardless of their origin (natural or man-made). During the past 10 years, several infectious disease outbreaks have shaped current policy developments surrounding public health preparedness. While all but one disease outbreak – the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States – emerged naturally or accidentally in the human population, their impact on domestic and international public health has been profound.
Within the U.S., there has been increased funding to boost scientific, public health, and first response capabilities against a disease outbreak from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents. High-risk municipalities have been given financial support to improve their public health and traditional first response systems as well as disease surveillance capabilities. States have been given vehicles to stockpile vaccines and drugs against threat agents, and state agencies play important roles in confirming and mitigating infectious disease outbreaks. Policy discussions have gone beyond traditional first responders and public health professionals to scientists, veterinarians, and community leaders.