By: Loren E. Shaffer, MPH, PhD
While the majority of potential bioweapons and emerging infectious diseases are associated with disease-causing agents that are zoonotic, detection of a zoonotic disease outbreak continues to rely on the identification of human cases. Existing disease surveillance in animals is inadequate to detect outbreaks of zoonoses early. Development of outbreak surveillance that is integrated across multiple species is warranted to improve our capabilities of detecting outbreaks earlier and providing the opportunity for implementation of earlier interventions that reduce morbidity, mortality, and economic burden. The author describes investigations they have completed into the using data from a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for the early detection of outbreaks caused by zoonotic pathogens. Results demonstrate the occurrence of increased incidence of disease affecting humans and animals at the same time and indicate the possibility of significantly earlier warning of these and like events.