Smithsonian exhibit
“Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World” makes its debut May 18.

IDSA Announces Sponsorship of New Exhibition at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) says it is proud to have collaborated on the installation of “Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World” making its debut May 18 in Washington D.C. The exhibit gives guests a close look at the origins of infections and examines how outbreaks are handled.
The exhibition – which will remain on view for three years at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History – marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Known as the worst pandemic in history, claiming at least 50 million people lives, it serves as a sober reminder of the potential for infections to affect humankind. With available modern methods, the exhibit traces the detective work behind the interdisciplinary scientific teams that identify the causes of outbreaks as well as work with governments and public health groups to halt disease outbreaks.

“This exhibition demonstrates how fundamentally important infectious diseases experts, physicians, and scientists are to our good health. A well-funded U.S. public health infrastructure is critical to keep our nation free of dangerous contagions that also requires strategic works abroad before problems come to our shores,” says IDSA president Paul Auwaerter, MD, MBA, FIDSA. “This demonstration helps visitors truly understand how infectious diseases can affect everyone.”

Throughout the hands-on exhibit, guests will hear personal perspectives and follow real-life case studies to learn how outbreaks spread and become epidemics. The exhibit incorporates interactive manual and digital elements including maps, murals, simulated viruses and other displays.
Aside from the financial support of IDSA members, these infectious diseases physicians and researchers also met with Smithsonian curators to discuss the scientific content, particularly focusing on necessary global efforts to both prevent and extinguish outbreaks and pandemics. IDSA members will serve as experts embedded in the exhibit and host customized “pop-up” versions of the exhibit at their respective institutions.

While significant strides have been been made in medicine over the past hundred years since the 1918 pandemic, infectious diseases remain a frequent and challenging threat to all persons regardless of age, sex, lifestyle, ethnic background and socioeconomic status. For more than 50 years, IDSA has worked to address ongoing threats but also strive to prepare for the next pandemic that will no doubt strike our increasingly dynamic but crowded planet. IDSA is excited about the opportunity to share the fascinating world of infectious diseases with a broader audience.

Source:  Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA),

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