Thursday, 7 April 2011

Integrated Bio-preparedness (4-5)

Integrated Bio-preparedness

Bio-surveillance: “Active, data-gathering, analysis and interpretation of biosphere data related to disease activity and threats to human health and animal health to achieve early warning, detection and situational awareness”

Given the rising threat of zoonotic diseases, this collaborative exchange session explored the use of risk-based disease surveillance strategies from a One Health perspective. The session involved 4 panelists:

1. Dr. Dennis Carroll, Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Avian Influenza and other Emerging Threats Unit

2. Dr. Tom McGinn, Senior Health Advisor, North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative Program Manager, Office of Health Affairs, Department of Homeland Security

3. Dr. Megan Davies, State Epidemiologist and Chief of the Epidemiology Section, NC Department of Health and Human Services

4. Dr. Anna Waller, Research Associate Professor in Emergency Medicine, UNC School of Medicine

Per Dr. Carroll, the incidence of emerging infectious diseases is not an accidental or unique event, but consequence of events that continue to occur in an accelerated fashion. In fact, the threat from zoonotic diseases is intensifying: pathogen emergence expected to increase 5 fold from 2000-2030. The main drivers behind rising threat are population pressures, climate change, food security, economic growth, and globalization.

Dr. McGinn communicated that because disease emergence is proportionately a rare event, the ability to detect and control disease outbreak will rest on surveillance capability. From the One Health perspective, it is critically mportant to have the systems in place for early disease detection in animals as well as humans.

While disease surveillance occurs at geographic hotspots internationally (Amazon, congo basin, southeast asia, area around the Ganges river), Dr. Davies communicated the importance of surveillance at the state and local level. The scope of biosurveillance includes threats, exposures, adverse events, diseases and outbreaks.

Similarly, Dr. Waller reviewed the surveillance system in place in emergency departments in North Carolina. While most of this data is syndromic, it provides vital information to guide the public health response and can only be collected at the local level.

Overall, this session was both informative and collaborative, as all participants were able to not only recognize the components of surveillance in humans and animals, but also to ponder how the collected information could be used in global disease prediction strategies.