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Species-jumping Diseases: Better Global System Needed To Effectively Prevent, Detect, Respond To Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

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.
 
 

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