Commentary: Wanted: Early Warning For Global Epidemics

In 1937, doctors examining a feverish woman from the West Nile region of Uganda found an encephalitis virus they had never seen before. They didn't know where it had come from, but it was already on the move. The West Nile virus turned up in Egypt in the 1950s, moved up and down Africa, and by 1963 had made its way into Europe and across much of Asia. In the summer of 1999, it leaped across the Atlantic to New York--its first appearance in the Western Hemisphere.

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