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Influenza Risk Assessment and Risk Modelling: Pandemic Influenza Threats and Beyond


From 7-9 November, FAO will host an Influenza Risk Assessment and Risk Modelling workshop in Rome, Italy, bringing together experts in influenza risk analysis from across the globe to discuss the latest techniques, share information and open new channels to combine their data and knowledge to better pinpoint high-risk areas for the emergence of pandemic strains of influenza and other potentially lethal pathogens shared among people, livestock and wildlife.

The workshop will be attended by over 40 leaders in the scientific community representing more than 20 global institutions. Participants include representatives from leading international universities, government representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, China and Viet Nam, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Italy’s Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSV), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the U.S. National Institutes for Health (NIH), the World Health Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). OpenFlu, the open source database for sharing of influenza virus information, will also be represented.

Since H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza emerged as a major global threat in 2003, scientists have mapped the size, density and species that make up national poultry populations, different production systems (scavenging and backyard to large-scale commercial operations) human populations and population density, migration routes of wild birds using global positioning systems (GPS), and expanded monitoring and surveillance to include other domestic animals such as pigs and wildlife. to determine their roles in disease emergence.

By bringing together, scientific minds that tend to study disease emergence in their separate spheres or within their specific areas of expertise, it is expected that prediction models will be improved by combining different data layers honing scientist’s ability to identify risks before they emerge as serious disease events.

Influenza viruses can infect a wide range of animal hosts. Most recently, a large number of seals were discovered to have been sickened and died from influenza infection. The world is reminded every year of the threat of seasonal human influenza viruses, as well as ongoing concerns over H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and pandemic H1N1 influenza. Human health, food security, and livelihoods continue to be severely impacted by a wide variety of influenza viruses affecting poultry, swine, and other livestock. These viruses are unique in their ability to mix and change drastically from year to year through antigenic drift and antigenic shifts, creating new and possibly more dangerous virus strains, highlighting the importance of this meeting of the minds to improve science.

This workshop is supported by USAID, NIH, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Oklahoma University.

The FAO and USAID offices in Bangladesh supported the WILD training.

 

© FAO/Boripat Siriaroonrat

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