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Emerging zoonoses.

Abstract

In the past few years, emergent disease episodes have increased; nearly all have involved zoonotic or species-jumping infectious agents. Because there is no way to predict when or where the next important new zoonotic pathogen will emerge or what its ultimate importance might be, investigation at the first sign of emergence of a new zoonotic disease is particularly important. Such investigation may be described in terms of a discovery-to-control continuum: from recognition of a new disease in a new setting to complex phases involving the hard science disciplines pertaining to discovery, the epidemiologic sciences pertaining to risk assessment, and activities pertaining to risk management. Today, many activities involving zoonotic disease control are at risk because of a failed investigative infrastructure or financial base. Because zoonotic diseases are distinct, their prevention and control will require unique strategies, based more on fundamental research than on traditional approaches. Such strategies require that we rebuild a cadre of career-committed professionals with a holistic appreciation of several medical and biologic sciences.

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