Today, the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet, has issued a special series of articles focused on emerging zoonoses (human diseases that originate in or are shared with animals). The featured papers are authored by leading scientists, many of whom collaborate with the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Pandemic Influenza and Other Emerging Threats (PIOET) program, which was established in October 2009 to ensure a coordinated, comprehensive international effort to preempt the emergence of future pandemic diseases, such as HIV and influenzas.
The Lancet series consists of three papers:
Ecology of zoonoses: natural and unnatural histories;
Drivers, dynamics and control of emerging vector-borne zoonotic diseases; and
Prediction and prevention of the next pandemic zoonosis.
The papers are complemented by two comment pieces: Anatomy of a pandemic; and Emerging infectious diseases: the role of social sciences. All of the articles can be accessed at: http://www.thelancet.com/series/zoonoses.
According to Dennis Carroll, PhD, Director of the USAID's PIOET program, "These papers underscore the importance of emerging infectious diseases. But more importantly, they highlight the opportunities to build on the recent advances in science and technology to enable the global community to identify potential future threats earlier and respond more quickly before they are fully constituted."
Zoonoses cause more than 60% of human infectious diseases, and have been responsible for some of the most devastating disease outbreaks in the past few decades, including HIV, Ebola, and SARS. Despite their significant impact on human health, however, there are major gaps in our understanding of how zoonoses cross over and spread among human populations. The articles in the Lancet series aim to address these outstanding questions by discussing the ecology, drivers, and dynamics of zoonoses to better enable us to predict and minimize the impact of the next zoonotic pandemic.
This Lancet series is published ahead of a special 20th Anniversary Symposium to be held December 11th – 12th, 2012 in Washington, DC, and hosted by the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) Forum on Microbial Threats. The symposium will take a retrospective look at the Institute of Medicine's seminal reports on Emerging Infections (1992) and Microbial Threats to Health (2003) as well as reflect upon the Institute of Medicine's creation of the Forum in 1996.