Concerns of a state health official

October 29, 2008
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One of the people responsible for ensuring we stay healthy is Dr. Judy Monroe, who directs the Indiana Department of Health.

So, what keeps someone with a job like hers up at night?

A nightmare scenario is a new virus that quickly grows to pandemic status, Monroe says. Itâ??s possible, but not likely, that a virus resistant to every drug that society could throw at it would shoot around the world faster than scientists could concoct a cure, she says.

Monroe reminds that, historically, pandemics have occurred roughly three times every century. Among the better known are the bubonic plague in Europe in the 12th Century and the influenza outbreak of 1918. The flu was particularly scary because it claimed lives of even the healthiest young people within three days of the infection setting in.

Researchers found ways to whip polio, which worried parents in the â??50s, but have yet to find a prevention for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, which emerged in the â??80s, she noted. However, neither of those diseases, awful as they are, rank with pandemics in terms of lives lost.

In other words, weâ??ve gone nearly a century without a true pandemic â?? beating the odds with science.

â??We take for granted how far our science has come,â?? Monroe said.

What are your thoughts? Will science be able to continue its successful ways? And how safe to you feel?

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