Second Scientific Consultation on Influenza and Other Emerging Zoonotic Diseases at the Human-Animal Interface
19 May 2010 ľ From 27 to 29 April 2010, a group of experts and scientists from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO) gathered in Verona, Italy to attend the ôSecond FAO-OIE-WHO Joint Scientific Consultation on Influenza and Other Emerging Zoonotic Diseases at the Human-Animal Interface."
This scientific consultation attempted to identify commonalities and similarities among emerging infectious diseases, including influenzas, which have arisen at the human-animal interface, through careful examination of disease events reported worldwide. The outcomes of this consultation provided the technical basis for developing or modifying policies and strategies to more effectively prepare for and respond to future disease events.
Given that the last twelve years have seen a fast resurgence of emerging infectious diseases such as Nipah Virus in 1998 in Malaysia, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in early 2003 in China, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza from 2004 to 2010 mainly in Southeast Asia but also in Europe and Africa, and Pandemic Influenza A H1N1 in 2009 in Mexico and the United States, there is worldwide fear that more infectious diseases will strike in the future. This dire scenario is not at all unlikely, since it is estimated that 70 percent of emerging infectious diseases affecting humans have their origins in domestic or wild animals.
Moreover, these novel biological threats are rapidly flourishing against a background of security and economic challenges such as rising hunger, climate change, radicalism, terrorism, energy insecurity, unemployment, and recession; all of which cause concern and trepidation in countries around the globe as they tend to impact public health, social order, economic growth, and national security.
Back in 2008, the first joint technical consultation was convened to identify the current knowledge and existing gaps to better understand and respond to zoonotic influenza viruses and the multiple socio-ecological factors at the human-animal interface. This time, it aimed to further broaden its disease coverage while looking judiciously at the past to strategically build new paradigms for the future.