Building to a zoonotic early warning system

USDA is talking about its framework for building an early warning system for potential zoonotic outbreaks.

Those are diseases that can be transmitted between humans and animals. The Animal and Plant Inspection Service says that it learned a lot from West Nile when it was first detected 20 years ago.

They recently finalized their plan to include enhanced surveillance of COVID in animals.

According to APHIS’s Associate Administrator, Mike Watson, “So we want to make sure we’re doing the surveillance and have a really good picture of the scope of potential hosts for the virus and what that means. So, we’ve seen reports of the virus in deer and other animals. What does that mean? Does that mean animals are impacted by the virus? Does that mean animals can transmit from animal to animal? Does it mean animals can transmit from animals to humans? So we want to have a good feel of what that presence means.”

The plan is currently in its implementation phase and focuses on animals in the wild and in captivity. USDA hopes it will be a tool in predicting future pandemics.


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