Preventing the Spread of Communicable Disease in an Age of Globalization

Some 30,000 people were quarantined in the Chinese city of Yumen last week after a man was found to have died bubonic plague. Authorities are concerned that he may have come into contact with others and have potentially spread the highly fatal disease. Meanwhile, the ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to spread, having already killed more than 600 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and most recently in Nigeria. And closer to home, in California, a homeless man who carries a drug-resistant from of tuberculosis is being sought by authorities who want to prevent the disease from being spread.

Preventing the spread of communicable diseases has become increasingly challenging as the international system becomes closer entwined through faster international travel and greater international trade. Globalization facilitates the movement of people and goods, but also of disease. But preventing the spread of diseases globally can be a dramatic challenge, as the massive effort to prevent the spread of SARS in 2002 and 2003 highlighted.

What do you think? How can we work to prevent the spread of deadly diseases like ebola and the plague in the context of globalization? Did the Chinese authorities respond appropriately? Why?

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