A global early warning system for zoonotic diseases was launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The Global Early Warning and Response System is the first joint early warning system with the goal of predicting and responding worldwide to animal diseases, including zoonoses. The system will combine and coordinate the tracking, verification, and alerting mechanisms of the FAO, WHO, and OIE.
"From an animal health point of view, controlling contagious animal diseases in their early stages is easier and less expensive for the international community," said Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of the OIE. "In cases of zoonoses, this system will enable control measures that can also benefit public health."
Susanne Weber-Mosdorf, WHO assistant director general, said, "History shows us that the earlier we can detect a zoonosis, the earlier we can take action to reduce the threats to people. Today, the spread of avian flu reinforces the fact that the animal and human health sectors must work closely together, and that early detection and coordination is critical. This new network is an important step forward."
The information gathered through the tracking and verification channels of the FAO, WHO, and OIE will be shared using the warning system's Web-based electronic platform. The three organizations will jointly analyze the information to decide whether to issue an early warning message. The warning messages will describe the possible implications of disease spread among animals at the national, regional, and international levels and the potential public health impact. If there is a clear indication that a joint on-site assessment or intervention is required, the three organizations will collaborate and activate their response mechanisms.
More information on the Global Early Warning and Response System can be found at the three organizations' Web sites, www.fao.org, www.who.int, and www.oie.int.