Opening May 18, 2018, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will open a new three-year exhibit entitled Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World. Perfect timing for any ACHA 2018 attendee interested in infectious diseases and pandemics.
2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Influenza, the pandemic flu that killed between 50-100 million people – 3-5% of the total global population at the time. The Outbreak exhibit is meant to recognize this anniversary, and examine the human ecology of epidemics. Diseases covered include the Nipah virus, SARS, and HIV, and the exhibit will show how viruses can spread from animals to people, why some outbreaks become epidemics and others don’t, and how people in different disciplines and countries are working together to stop them.
Today, pandemic diseases are one of the largest threats to human health. Modern day pandemics include HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and Zika. While it’s difficult to imagine the devastation of the 1918 influenza outbreak, the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa was the largest known infection of this disease, causing more deaths than all previous Ebola epidemics. It’s probably our best current-day comparison.
To learn more about this exhibit, read the press release from 2017, and stay tuned to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s website for updates.