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Washington State University
WSU Research Global Health Security

Global health security

Disease detection, prevention, and response in developing areas

In a village in southeastern Guinea, a 2-year old boy spiked a fever and became gravely ill. He died in a matter of days. Soon his family became sick, then mourners at their funerals, then a health worker and relatives of the sick. It would be 3 months before health officials knew the identity of the deadly disease: Ebola.1 Since the dawn of the 2014 epidemic, the virus has reached 6 countries, crippled fragile economies, and claimed more than 11,000 lives.2

Global health security relies on the ability to quickly recognize and respond to disease outbreaks. The 2014 Ebola crisis underscores how epidemics not only exact a toll public health, but on national economies as well. Fearful of contagion, workers stay home, businesses close, and transportation is disrupted. The impact can ripple around the world.

WSU researchers seek ways to stop outbreaks before they start. They are developing objective, data-driven methods for disease detection and response for use in resource-poor environments. Working across disciplines, scholars identify barriers to halting the spread of disease, be they political, economic, social, behavioral, or cultural. They aim to create disease surveillance and response systems that will be sustainable at all levels of governance. New models under development will serve the global community.

1. “Tracing Ebola’s Breakout to an African 2-Year-Old,” by Denise Grady and Sheri Fink, August 9, 2014, The New York Times

2.“Ebola Situation Reports,” World Health Organization, data up to 19 July, 2015

 Research areas

  • Disease surveillance, monitoring, and associated computational modeling
  • Innovative solutions to infectious disease
  • Health care access in rural and underserved areas
  • Economic, behavioral, social, and cultural influencers of health and economic security
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