WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the past three years, the PREDICT Project of the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Pandemic Influenza and Other Emerging Threats (PIOET) program has trained 1,500 people in surveillance, diagnostics, and outbreak response; has discovered 200 novel viruses related to groups known to cause disease in humans; and has standardized animal sampling protocols as part of detecting and preventing pathogens of pandemic potential from spilling over from animal to human populations – and vice versa.
These figures were presented by Stephen Morse, PhD, of Columbia University and Co-Director of the PREDICT Project during a panel at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Institute of Medicine (IoM)'s Forum on Microbial Threats. The panel on "Disease Detection, Emergence and Spread: Tools and Approaches for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Detection" was moderated by Dennis Carroll, PhD, Director of the PIOET program at USAID.
Held on Dec. 11-12, 2012 in Washington, DC, the IoM Forum on Microbial Threats brought together top infectious disease researchers and leading public health officials to explore what has been learned about new and re-emerging infectious diseases since the IoM issued a seminal 1992 report pointing to challenges in controlling these public health threats.
"As the IoM forum has shown, we have accomplished a lot over the past two decades, but there is still much left to be done," Dr. Carroll noted. "We are only at the beginning of being able to predict and prevent emerging pandemic threats around the world."
The IoM forum followed a public briefing on December 10th by the PREDICT project, one of four complementary projects (along with PREVENT, IDENTIFY, and RESPOND) that draw on expertise from across the animal and human health sectors to build regional, national, and local "One Health" capacities in developing countries for early disease detection, laboratory-based disease diagnosis, rapid response and containment, and risk reduction. The PIOET program coordinates closely with other U.S. Government agencies, international organizations, and donors.
The PREDICT briefing and IoM forum came on the heels of a special series of articles on emerging infectious diseases that was published on November 30 in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet. The articles in the series, authored by Mr. Carroll and several scientists who collaborate with USAID's PIOET program, can be accessed at: http://www.thelancet.com/series/zoonoses.