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Notice to Readers: Revised International Health Regulations Effective for the United States

On July 18, 2007, the revised International Health Regulations (IHRs) entered into effect for the United States. IHRs are an international legal framework designed to help contain or prevent serious risks to public health while discouraging unnecessary or excessive restrictions on travel or trade. The revised IHRs 1) describe the obligations of World Health Organization (WHO) member states to assess and manage serious health threats that have the potential to spread beyond their borders and 2) provide guidance for meeting those obligations.

Under the revised IHRs, member states must report to WHO cases of smallpox, poliomyelitis caused by wild-type poliovirus, human influenza caused by a new virus subtype, and severe acute respiratory syndrome. In addition, member states must notify WHO in a timely way of any threat that qualifies as a public health emergency of international concern, whether that threat is associated with an infectious, chemical, biologic, or radiologic agent.

Several federal agencies are working to implement the revised IHRs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has assumed the lead role in carrying out the reporting requirements. The DHHS Operations Center is the central body responsible for reporting events to WHO. The United States will build upon existing state and local reporting and response networks, including the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, to receive information at the federal level. After briefings from CDC on the need for state and local support to implement the revised IHRs, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists on June 28, 2007, approved a resolution that the organization will support the new regulations (available at http://www.cste.org/ps/2007ps/2007psfinal/id/07-id-06.pdf).

Additional information regarding the revised IHRs is available from WHO at http://www.who.int/csr/ihr/en/index.html. Information is also available from DHHS at http://www.globalhealth.gov/ihr.



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