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Predicting, preventing, and controlling pandemics: Making the case for a strategic action plan
Date:12/4/2012

December 4, 2012 About 60% of infectious diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that make the jump to humans from other species. This includes some of the most devastating disease outbreaks of the past 30 years, including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and SARS. Despite the huge and rising toll of such diseases, many gaps remain in our understanding of how these "zoonoses" evolve, develop, and spreadgaps that must be filled if we are to succeed in preventing or at least reducing the impact of a next pandemic.

A new paper published in the Lancet by Stephen S. Morse, PhD, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues, lays out a series of research and surveillance opportunities that could help bridge these gaps and move the global pandemic strategy from response to pre-emption and prediction. The paper, "Predicting and Preventing the Next Pandemic Zoonosis, is part of a special Lancet series that explores the ecology, drivers, and dynamics of zoonoses with a view toward improving prediction of the next pandemic and reducing the human and economic costs.

According to Dr. Morse and the other authors of the Lancet series, there are several stages in disease emergence and each change increases the likelihood of the pathogen making contact with humans. The spread of zoonoses is strongly affected by such human activities as global travel, changes in land use, and animal agriculture. Thus prevention will require intervention and planning on many fronts.

Recent developments in modeling and technology, including revolutionary advances in communications, database design, and use of the latest molecular screening methods to identify previously unknown infectious agents, have put us on the verge of being able to predict the next zoonotic pandemic, according to Dr. Morse, who is also co-Director of the PREDICT project of the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) P
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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