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The Challenges of Tackling Animal to Human Disease Transmission

Distinguished natural and social scientists discussed emerging zoonotic diseases at an LIDC workshop and encouraged more collaborative research to boost disease eradication efforts. They proposed hosting a conference on disease eradication and emphasised the importance of improving disease surveillance and risk analysis in developing countries at the event on 17 June.
 
A total of 25 staff from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the School of Pharmacy (SoP) took part in the event held at LIDC’s premises in Gordon Square. Participants at the Emerging Zoonotic Diseases: Science and Policy workshop also explored developing Master’s modules at LSHTM and RVC to incorporate both zoonotic diseases and international development issues.
 
Professor Paul Fine, of LSHTM, predicted announcements in 2010 about the successful eradication of the mainly cattle-borne rinderpest and the parasitic guinea worm by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) respectively. He said such declarations will create new opportunities and enthusiasm for further disease eradication efforts and it would be timely for a conference on disease eradication to coincide with these developments.
 
The series of workshop talks on diverse topics, including diseases in Africa, Asia and Latin America, included a presentation by Dr. Matthias Borchert, of LSHTM. He focused on the rodent-borne Lhasa fever in West Africa, and the Marburg/Ebloa viruses in Central Africa and described how, despite considerable international interest, there has been a near-complete breakdown of surveillance in local and regional level. Consequently, it may take a long time for new outbreaks to be reported and many people may be affected before action is taken.
 
The complexity of foodborne zoonotic diseases and disease risk was highlighted by Professor Katharina Stärk, of RVC and she spoke about the contribution of urbanisation, changes in diet and international trade to the spread of disease. Moreover, RVC has recently established a new Centre for Emerging, Exotic and Endemic Diseases (CEEED) in a new facility on their Hawkshead Campus. It will house staff from a range of disciplines and will focus on complex infectious disease systems and emerging and vector-borne diseases.
 
Emerging Zoonotic Diseases: Science and Policy is the latest in an ongoing series of workshops run by LIDC to promote inter-disciplinary research. LIDC is a unique collaborative project bringing together social and natural scientists and educators across the six  Bloomsbury Colleges (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College, School of Pharmacy, School of African and Oriental Studies, Insitute of Education). It aims to establish an inter-disciplinary approach to addressing complex problems in international development.

For more information contact Guy Collender, Communications Officer at LIDC, 0207 958 8260, guy.collender@lidc.bloomsbury.ac.uk