Updated
April 2nd, 2018

Infectious Disease Deaths Decrease 18.7%

County-based reporting shows extensive infectious disease variance across the USA

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A new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says the USA is making great progress against infectious diseases.

This study shows a downward trend in all disease categories, except diarrheal.

Between 1980 and 2014, there was an 18.7 percent decrease reported in mortality from most infectious diseases, according to this report.

This decrease was attributed to several factors, including new medicines and vaccines.

This decrease was most significant in men, who in 1980 died from infectious diseases at a rate of 56 deaths per 100,000 persons.

But, by 2014, males reported 39 deaths per 100,000 persons.

However, across the 50 states, there are very large variations between the type of disease reported.

Additionally, specific diseases are now reported at a county level.

This dataset is particularly relevant to public health leaders when making decisions regarding resource allocation and treatment efforts. These researchers said national and state-level estimates can sometimes be misleading, and "mask variations at the local level.

The top 6 disease categories (lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, hepatitis, meningitis, and tuberculosis) accounted for 95.9 percent of reported cases.

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The only cause of infectious disease mortality that increased over the 34 years was diarrheal diseases.

Lower Respiratory Infections (LRI) were the leading cause of infectious diseases mortality in 2014, accounting for 78.80% of all infectious diseases mortality. Overall, LRI mortality rates decreased 25.79 percent since 1980.

And, LRI had the highest absolute inequality between counties.

Lower respiratory infection mortality was higher in the eastern half of the USA, except for Collier County, Florida.

LRI mortality peaked in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.

In the western half of the USA, many counties with high rates of lower respiratory infection mortality were located in Nevada, Montana, and South Dakota.

Over the study's thirty-four years, there were 4,081,546 deaths from infectious diseases in the USA. Specifically, there were 13,650 deaths in 2014 versus 72,220 deaths in 1980.

To conduct the study, researchers from the University of Washington analyzed de-identified death records from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and population counts from the US Census Bureau to measure age-standardized mortality rates.

All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest, and none were reported.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (72305), the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (5P30AG047845), and John W. Stanton and Theresa E. Gillespie.