CANARIES: The Consortium of Animal market Networks to Assess risk of emerging Infectious diseases through Enhanced Surveillance

Infectious diseases remain a leading cause of human deaths world-wide, with a particularly high burden in low-income countries. There have been considerable improvements in human health and clinical care in recent decades. However, surging population growth, subsistence farming and persistent overdevelopment of land in lower income countries has pushed people and farm animals into previously unforged contact with wild animals and ecosystems, resulting in increased occurrences and threats of infections with zoonotic pathogens such as avian influenza virus (AIV). Additionally, the misappropriation and lack of regulations in these locations pertaining to antibiotic-use in farming and human health sectors has led to the proliferation of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) strains of bacteria which are significant threats to global health security. These emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) occur in “hotspots” across the globe, such as South and Southeast Asia, West and Central Africa and the Middle East.

Past efforts to detect and reduce the impacts of EIDs have largely been initiated by, and focused on, post-emergence outbreak control and mitigation strategies. However, delays in detection or response to EIDs have caused extensive mortality and high economic damages across cultural, political and national boundaries. Since most of the developing world relies on agricultural labor for both health and economic stability, setbacks caused by EIDs are likely to have lasting impacts relative to high-income countries. Therefore, there is a need to develop “early warning” and predictive systems in a local context; that can quickly identify risks of disease emergence in regions from which novel diseases are more likely to emerge. Such predictive systems are essential for focusing surveillance, prevention and control programs early in the chain of emergence, thus containing EIDs closer to their source, and more effectively limiting their subsequent spread and socioeconomic impacts. In economic terms, the value of early detection and prevention of EIDs in the labor force are higher in poorer countries. Heightened awareness of AMFR prevalence is also essential to preserve antibiotics for future generations and to understand how to treat common diseases in AMR endemic areas.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (AIV) is a significant concern because it continues to alter and adapt at a rapid rate. However, pandemic implications/effects of these tropisms are unknown. Therefore, a coordinated, well-defined and connected surveillance effort should establish itself, networking and integrating with previously established and connected formal and informal global human influenza surveillance networks. Such an AIV surveillance network could potentially be used as an “early warning” system, a canary in the coalmine, for other EIDs in both humans and animals; which to date is a potential that has not been fully realized. The Consortium of Animal Market Networks to Assess Risk of Emerging Infectious Diseases Through Enhanced Surveillance (CANARIES) is sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Cooperative Threat Reduction, Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP). It seeks to apply a multisectoral, multi-level approach, integrating program policies, legislation and research to achieve better One Health outcomes. Further, this network aims to complement existing early warning activities and directly influence surveillance, prevention and control programs that would have both health and economic impacts worldwide.

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