How to see the next viral threat coming
The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus has followed an eerily familiar pattern. First recognized just weeks ago in the city of Wuhan, China, the virus is suspected of having originated in animals and later began infecting humans, most likely through contact with an infected animal in a food market. By the time the world began to understand its threat, the virus had already reached multiple countries and hopped an ocean. It is now infecting tens of thousands of people and has caused more than 400 deaths.
In their efforts to contain the virus, public health officials have taken swift and comprehensive action, including quarantining people who may have been exposed to the virus and restricting travel to and from affected areas. Yet even these measures may not stop the virus’ spread entirely. ...
... In my research program, we are bringing together researchers in human health, veterinary health and environmental health to learn what happens at this human-animal interface. Our team is working on farms and in animal markets in multiple countries to detect and study viruses that pass among animals and sometimes sicken livestock workers and handlers. (To see an example of our work, watch this video of a recent project in Vietnam).
This emerging collaborative field, often called “one health,” integrates knowledge from several different spheres, including human health, animal health, environmental health and agricultural businesses. The approach is gaining traction among academics, government officials and international policymakers as the best way to approach complex problems such as emerging zoonotic diseases. But we need to do more to integrate this approach into how we prepare for viruses like the newly emerged coronavirus. ...
To read this important complete article, please see https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/482341-how-to-see-the-next-viral-threat-coming