Zapping Zoonotic Disease

The USDA wants to build a zoonotic disease radar to prevent or at least limit the next global pandemic.

Quick refresher: Zoonotic disease is an illness that can be spread between animals and people.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is doing everything in its power to prevent, detect, investigate, and counter emerging diseases that threaten human and animal health, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

And that effort is to the tune of $300M in American Rescue Plan funds out of the estimated $22.7B designated for nutrition and ag.

The motivation: COVID-19, West Nile virus, H1N1 influenza, and Ebola virus. USDA said for each of these outbreaks, we didn’t fully understand the threat until we started seeing illness and death in humans.

And that’s just the shortlist; 75% of emerging infectious diseases in humans can also impact the health of animals.

The fix: The long-term goal is to build a comprehensive, data-driven system that connects and alerts the experts in livestock, wildlife, people, and pet health of potential disease threats.