Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History "Outbreak" Exhibit. Logos from Smithsonian, Outbreak: Epidemics an a Connected World, and USAID. A scientist with a germ mask looks at a sample.

Our world is more interconnected than ever before—by global travel and trade, by technology, and even by our viruses.

When people move into or change an environment, pathogens—microbes that cause illness—can “jump” from wildlife to humans and cause disease outbreaks that spread internationally. Tracking down and responding to outbreaks requires coordinated detective work from people in many professions.

Outbreak invites visitors to join epidemiologists, veterinarians, public health workers, and citizens of all ages and origins as they rush to identify and contain infectious disease outbreaks. Case studies of HIV/AIDS, Ebola virus, and influenza highlight the social and emotional fallout of outbreaks—for victims, their loved ones, and society overall. Objects from both the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of American History collections illustrate the scientific and cultural impact of epidemics.

Learn more about Outbreak.

How is USAID Preparing for the Next Outbreak?

A health threat anywhere is a health threat everywhere. USAID helps countries prevent, detect, and respond to emerging infectious disease threats with pandemic potential by improving laboratory capacity to support surveillance, responding in an appropriate and timely manner, strengthening national and local response capacities and educating at-risk populations on how to prevent exposures to these dangerous pathogens.

In USAID's three-part podcast series, "Are We Ready for the Next Outbreak?", infectious disease experts and innovators from the Fighting Ebola and Combating Zika and Future Threats Grand Challenges discuss lessons learned from responding to previous disease outbreaks and the role that innovation plays in changing the trajectory of future outbreaks.

Last updated: May 21, 2018

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