Jason K. Blackburn, Ian T. Kracalik and Jeanne M. Fair
Article first published online: 07 December 2015 Frontiers in Public Health
ABSTRACT: The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the current saiga antelope die off in Kazakhstan each represent very real and difficult to manage public or veterinary health crises. They also illustrate the importance of stable and funded surveillance and sound policy for intervention or disease control. While these two events highlight extreme cases of infectious disease (Ebola) or (possible) environmental exposure (saiga), diseases such as anthrax, brucellosis, tularemia, and plague are all zoonoses that pose risks and present surveillance challenges at the wildlife-livestock-human interfaces. These four diseases are also considered important actors in the threat of biological terror activities and have a long history as legacy biowarfare pathogens. This paper reviews recent studies done cooperatively between American and institutions within nations of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) focused on spatiotemporal, epidemiological, and ecological patterns of these four zoonoses. We examine recent studies and discuss the possible ways in which techniques, including ecological niche modeling, disease risk modeling, and spatio-temporal cluster analysis, can inform disease surveillance, control efforts and impact policy. Our focus is to posit ways to apply science to disease management policy and actual management or mitigation practices. Across these examples, we illustrate the value of cooperative studies that bring together modern geospatial and epidemiological analyses to improve our understanding of the distribution of pathogens and diseases in livestock, wildlife, and humans. For example, ecological niche modeling can provide national level maps of pathogen distributions for surveillance planning, while space-time models can identify the timing and location of significant outbreak events for defining active control strategies. We advocate for the need to bring the results and the researchers from cooperative studies into the meeting rooms where policy is negotiated and use these results to inform future disease surveillance and control or eradication campaigns.
Read the full publication at Frontiers in Public Health