Stopping Epidemics before They Start

In late March, thanks to a random safety check by Kraft Foods, and calls to the Food and Drug Administration from two ill people, health officials learned of salmonella-contaminated pistachios, and were able to alert the public. No one died from the tainted nuts, but that isn’t always the case. The salmonella-contaminated peanuts detected in September 2008 have caused at least nine deaths, and in general, 5,000 people die every year in the US as a result of food-borne illnesses. But today, GE Healthcare, a leading maker of health information technologies, announced an innovative partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Johns Hopkins University to develop a rapid-response public health alert system to stop influenza and other public health threats, before they spread.

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