Containing infectious disease is costly

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 25, 2005

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Controlling a small measles outbreak in 2004 cost the Iowa Dept. of Public Health $142,452, and those costs would have soared even higher if the illness had been allowed to spread, according to a paper published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Department officials analyzed the cost of tracing, treating and quarantining one unvaccinated student who returned from India with the disease, two others this person infected and the many people with whom they came into contact. Authors speculated that if measles had been allowed to spread, the cost could have increased to more than $700,000. This estimate does not take into account expenses incurred by the private health sector or individual loss of wages or productivity.

"Protecting the public from infectious disease has not only a personal health benefit, but an economic benefit to the community as well," said Patricia Quinlisk, one of the authors and Iowa state epidemiologist.

Authors advocate that economic analyses of vaccine-preventable diseases need to include not just the cost to the individual but also the cost to society.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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