"An epidemic is like a conflagration; it is most easily suppressed at the beginning. Therefore, the necessity of the earliest possible knowledge of its existence is obvious."
But an epidemic is like a fire, says Dr. Don Francis, the epidemiologist hero of "And the Band Played On," who is now working on a vaccine. "The earlier you get [there] before the flames are rampant, the better off you will do. And that is especially true of long incubation diseases where the smoldering and spread has occurred a lot more than you realize when you see the smoke. And so the inability to recognize the responsibility that the government has for public health, sets up a lack of response at the government level."
"An epidemic is like a forest fire: if you react early enough, all you need is a single bucket of water; but if you waste time, every minute counts, and very soon you need to call in the fire department, and then firefighting aircraft. An epidemic is a similar situation: outbreaks spread exponentially and very fast, so early warnings are absolutely essential."
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