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Which Disease Will Be Next?

by 5m Editor
16 March 2010, at 12:00am

"It's about anticipating and surveillance and disease control worldwide to stop infection at the source," Soren Alexandersen told the 2010 Banff Pork Seminar.


In a new era of 'One World – One Health', where human, animal and environmental health can no longer be viewed in isolation by either species or geography, this question is an obvious, if daunting one.

Listening to Soren Alexandersen speak on this topic at the Banff Pork Seminar, as it relates to zoonotic pandemic threats such as H1N1 influenza, it quickly becomes apparent the more important yet more challenging question is 'How can we stop it?'.


Soren Alexandersen

For Dr Alexandersen, the Director of the CFIA's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, the starting point to both answers is not likely found in Canada or any other first world country, but rather outside the developed world, particularly in disease 'hot-spot' parts of Africa and Asia plagued with overpopulation and poverty.

That brings tremendous logistical challenge, he says. But in today's new age of pandemic threat, tracking down and rooting out emerging problems at their source is by far the best preventative strategy.

"If we could do surveillance for some of these new pathogens, we may not even know what they are yet, but we think that we could probably find several of them before they become a problem, fix the problem and not get the problem at all."

It is not only a matter of preparing for the next outbreak, he says. "It's about anticipating and surveillance and disease control worldwide to stop infection at the source. This takes working together and getting into those difficult areas. We should not always wait until it comes to the developed world. We have the resources here. We can find it when it comes. But by then it's often too late. This is the cycle that needs to change."

Further Reading

- You can view other reports from the 2010 Banff Pork Seminar by clicking here.


March 2010