By Steven Ross Johnson / Modern Healthcare

Fewer Americans are dying from infectious diseases compared to three decades ago, but the outcome gap between rural and urban areas of the country has widened, according to a new study.

Deaths from infectious diseases decreased by 18% in the U.S. between 1980 and 2014, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA, dropping from 42 deaths per 100,000 people to 34 deaths per 100,000.

But rural counties aren't seeing the same improvements in infectious disease mortality as their urban counterparts, researchers found. One of the biggest drivers of that inequality is the steady decline in access to healthcare services in many rural areas.

"As a country we are doing much better, but certain counties are still lagging behind and are in fact getting worse," said study co-author Ali Mokdad, Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health.


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This study was co-authored by Ali Mokdad, Professor of Global Health; Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, Assistant Professor of Global Health; and Christopher Murray, Professor of Global Health.