Trends in infectious disease mortality in the United States from 1980 through 2014 have been released by researchers.
In a study appearing in the November 22/29 issue of JAMA, Heidi E. Brown, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona, Tucson, and colleagues investigated trends in infectious disease mortality in the United States from 1980 through 2014.
- From 1900 through 1996, mortality from infectious diseases declined in the United States, except for a 1918 spike due to the Spanish flu pandemic.
- Since 1996, major changes in infectious diseases have occurred, such as the introduction of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS and West Nile virus into the United States, advances in HIV/AIDS treatment, changes in vaccine perceptions, and increased concern over drug-resistant pathogens.
- Overall and infectious disease mortality decreased from 1900 through 1950 (except for the 1918 spike) and then leveled off.
- From 1980 through 2014, infectious diseases composed 5.4% of overall mortality.
- Per 100,000 population, infectious disease mortality increased from 42 in 1980 to 64 in 1995, paralleling trends in HIV/AIDS mortality.
- A decline in overall and HIV/AIDS mortality in 1995 was associated with the introduction of antiretroviral therapy.
- Most infectious disease deaths (38%) from 1980 through 2014 were due to influenza or pneumonia.
- Vaccine-preventable disease death rates decreased since 1980. Mortality due to hepatitis B alone showed an increase coincident with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- Mortality due to pathogens with drug-resistant strains remained stable since 1980.
- Mortality from Clostridium difficile, a hospital-acquired infection with drug resistance, increased from almost none in 1989 until reaching a plateau since 2007.
“Grouping related diseases (e.g., vector-borne disease) and using national-level data allow for the evaluation of general trends. However, trends in population subgroups and at the community level, such as measles outbreaks within low-vaccination communities, were not captured. Nonetheless, these trends illustrate the continued U.S. vulnerability to infectious diseases,” the authors write.