Preventing disease spillover from animals to humans: 07/11/2016
Image: Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control
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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
The prevention of disease transmission from animals to humans begins by careful surveillance of the sources of potential risks around the world, suggests the Global Director of an early warning system called PREDICT in a recent speech at NLM.
Jonna Mazet Ph.D. explains how PREDICT administers on-the-ground efforts in 20 nations to track the possible transmission of emerging infectious diseases from animals to humans.
Mazet, a professor of Epidemiology and Disease Ecology, at the University of California-Davis, says her team uses state-of-the-art tools to discover and characterize new viruses around the world to identify emerging disease threats and stop them early. The effort is to prevent future international pandemics, such as HIV/AIDS and SARS that emerged within animals and eventually, were spread to humans. Mazet adds more than 60 percent of 400 infectious diseases identified around the world since 1940 moved from animals to people in what is called a 'spillover' event.
While Mazet acknowledges PREDICT's efforts are unprecedented, she explains scientists, veterinarians, physicians, and others are poised for the first time to forecast and prevent emerging infectious diseases at their source.
Mazet told an NLM audience of about 100 (and we quote): 'I want to know what the hosts of Ebola are' (end of quote). Ebola is one of the diseases that probably began in animals where a spillover to humans occurred. Ebola eventually spread by human-to-human transmission and a few cases in the U.S. were widely covered by the North American news media in winter 2015.
Mazet, who gave the 2016 Joseph Leiter Lecture at NLM, explains PREDICT is partially funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Smithsonian Institute, and other partners. The Leiter Lecture is co-sponsored by NLM, the Medical Library Association, and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine.
Mazet suggests the 'one health' concept that underlies PREDICT's work strives to reduce disease risks by going to its source as well as to initiate innovative efforts to reduce human and animal exposure. In addition to surveillance of disease transmission in sites across four continents, Mazet notes PREDICT attempts to determine the risk of animal-to-human transmission, discover and diagnose the presence of new pathogens, as well as build the capacity of scientists around the world to predict and respond to some disease outbreaks.
A few of the nations where PREDICT is active include: Brazil and Peru in Latin America; Cambodia and Nepal in Asia, and the Cameroons and Tanzania in Africa.
The PREDICT project's website is accessible by entering the terms 'PREDICT (in all capital letters) - and UC Davis' in any search engine. You can watch Mazet's lecture by entering 'NIH Videocast' in any search engine, and then, search for Mazet (M...A...Z...E...T) within the 'past events' section.
Meanwhile, a link to background information about the diseases that spillover from animals to people (also called zoonotic diseases) is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the 'start here section of MedlinePlus.gov's animal diseases and your health health topic page.
An array of information about more homebound health risks from: dogs; cats; farm animals; horses; birds; and bats is available within the 'specifics' section of MedlinePlus.gov's animal diseases and your health health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's animal diseases and your health health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. You can sign up to receive updates about animal diseases and your health as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's animal diseases and your health health topic page, please type 'animal diseases and your health' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'animal diseases and your health (National Library of Medicine).'
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