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The World in Medicine
October 19, 2005

Emerging Diseases

JAMA. 2005;294(15):1890. doi:10.1001/jama.294.15.1890-d

Current surveillance systems for monitoring animals for pathogens that can be transmitted to humans are inadequate, according to a group of infectious disease experts from the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, China, France, and Switzerland (Kuiken et al. Science. 2005;309:1680-1681).

Because animals, especially those in the wild, are believed to be the source of more than 70% of all emerging infections, including SARS, avian influenza, and HIV, surveillance in animals for zoonotic pathogens “is critical for managing those infections,” the group noted. What is needed, they said, is an international group similar to the one formed in response to the avian influenza threat, with experts from the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, and other organizations to fashion a global surveillance system for zoonotic pathogens. Such a system, which would be integrated with public health surveillance, would provide early warnings of pathogen emergence and create opportunities to control such pathogens at an early stage, they said.

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