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Foreign Animal Disease Surveillance Project

About FADS

An outbreak of a highly contagious foreign animal disease (FAD) has the potential to cripple the animal agriculture industry of the United States. Surveillance systems currently employed for detection of FADs rely heavily on recognition of such diseases by producers and private veterinary practitioners. Methods of active surveillance are necessary to guarantee rapid detection of an FAD incursion to prevent the devastating economic and social consequences of delayed recognition. The field use of new diagnostic assays developed for the recognition of high consequence pathogens have yet to be clearly defined and evaluated. This gap in knowledge prevents government agencies from making informed decisions concerning mitigation strategies as related to FAD surveillance.

The creation of a practitioner network involved in the active surveillance of cattle with undifferentiated illness will help prevent catastrophic disease epidemics that could result from the intentional or accidental introduction of an FAD. Routine surveillance by veterinary practitioners examining ill livestock with vague clinical presentations may allow earlier detection of an FAD before an explosive epidemic occurs. Screening cattle for FADs at markets (as brucellosis) would increase the probability of earlier detection. Prevention is the key to all disease control programs, whether they are FADs or naturally-occurring endemic conditions. A well-trained network of private veterinary practitioners routinely submitting diagnostic specimens for screening would be an effective tool for prevention. This research program will also develop the statistical tools necessary to optimize decision rules for the initiation of FAD outbreak investigations, based on results of imperfect screening tests.