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Colleagues,


... Significant weaknesses undermine the global community's abilities to prevent, detect early, and respond efficiently to potentially deadly species-crossing microbes, such as the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus sweeping the globe, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. The report provides a detailed plan for establishing and funding a comprehensive, globally coordinated system to identify novel zoonotic disease threats as early as possible wherever they arise so appropriate measures can be taken to prevent significant numbers of human illnesses and deaths, and livestock losses.

U.S. federal agencies -- particularly the U.S. Agency for International Development -- should spearhead efforts to develop this system and work with international partners to provide funding and technical assistance to build the expertise, equipment, and other components of zoonotic disease surveillance and response capabilities in countries worldwide, said the committee that wrote the report. Species-jumping pathogens have caused more than 65 percent of infectious disease outbreaks in the past six decades, and have racked up more than $200 billion in economic losses worldwide over the past 10 years, the report notes. The U.S. beef industry alone lost $11 billion over three years after the detection of one cow with "mad cow disease" in 2003.

... The report ... recommends a fundamental shift in surveillance away from urgent, time-constrained reactions to individual diseases when they arise to a sustained focus on preventing the conditions for zoonotic agents to emerge and looking for signs of possible threats on an ongoing basis...

... USAID should lead an effort to identify sustainable funding sources to develop and maintain this new system. Funding for surveillance traditionally has focused on individual diseases with disproportionate resources aimed at infections in humans compared with those in animals ... The effort to find sustainable funding should specifically consider a tax on internationally traded meat and meat products as one possible mechanism, although the pros and cons of all options must be weighed to determine which funding sources will work best, the report notes...

... In addition, the report calls for the director general of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to have the power to declare animal health emergencies and make public credible information it receives about animal disease outbreaks if national governments fail to provide information in a timely manner ... The study was sponsored by USAID...
Copies of Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu.

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