Prepare for emerging special pathogens with review of threats, responses

Special pathogens have the potential to cause significant fallout on a worldwide basis. These diseases, such as Ebola and Lassa fever, are highly transmissible and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

Radu Postelnicu, MD
Radu Postelnicu, MD

“If we’re presented with one of these special pathogens, it is critical to know what to do and be able to respond quickly in order to prevent widespread transmission,” said Radu Postelnicu, MD, Assistant Professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Associate Director of the medical ICU at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

Dr. Postelnicu will chair the panel discussion, Emerging Special Pathogens in 2023: What All Providers Should Know, on Wednesday, from 7:15 am to 8:15 am, in Room 312 of the convention center. He and two other critical care and infectious disease experts—Gavin Harris, MD, of Emory University School of Medicine, and Kelly Cawcutt, MD, MS, of University of Nebraska College of Medicine—hope to arm attendees with the latest knowledge about these high-consequence diseases.

“We’re going to talk about where there are outbreaks of high-risk infectious disease in the world right now and what sort of medical countermeasures related to these pathogens are recommended,” Dr. Postelnicu said.

Presenters will review the clinical presentation and associated differential diagnoses of various special pathogens and provide an update on the United States’ preparedness for special pathogen outbreaks, including a specific examination of ICU preparedness considerations.

In the wake of COVID-19, Dr. Postelnicu said, it is important that hospitals and clinicians remember the lessons learned from that experience, maintain their readiness, and have appropriate infection control processes and procedures in place.

“The pandemic really shifted our understanding and awareness of what sort of pathogens exist and how rapidly something can spread,” he said. “Our knowledge base on special pathogens has really expanded, and, with this session, we hope to provide attendees with an update of where we are now in 2023, what response capacities we currently have in the US, and the potential challenges if we have another pathogen that arises and becomes another pandemic.”

For more information about special pathogens and preparedness and response resources, visit the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center. For information about current US and international infectious disease outbreaks, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Current Outbreak List.