Gap 1: A key gap in preventing, detecting, and diagnosing animal and zoonotic diseases is the lack of timely, appropriate, and necessary coordination and leadership among USDA, DOI, DHS, HHS, animal industries, and other responsible federal, state, and private entities.
Whether due to historic structures and functions of the USDA, HHS, and related federal, state, and local governments, or because of changes and challenges in funding and resources, there is an apparent disconnect between agencies that should function in partnership. Examples of disease events, whether an emergent disease (monkeypox, West Nile virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome), endemic disease (chronic wasting disease and avian influenza), or exotic disease (foot-and-mouth, exotic Newcastle disease) reveal a lack of effective cooperation among local, state, and federal entities.
The Trust for America’s Health (Benjamin et al., 2003) found over 200 different government offices and programs engaged in the response to just five outbreaks of animal-borne diseases (monkeypox, West Nile virus, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Lyme disease, and chronic wasting disease). It also found that as many as seven cabinet-level agencies and hundreds of state and local public health agencies are involved. State departments of agriculture and environmental protection agencies also play critical roles. Table 4-1 shows the complexity (and the need for coordination and communication) of responsibility and the number of federal government agencies involved with each specific disease/agent examined in Chapter 3. The table does not show the significant overlaps (for diseases such as monkeypox) in the programmatic functions performed by various federal agencies that also exist. Whereas there are clear lines of responsibility and authority for exotic disease agents, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, the regulatory lines of authority are not defined for endemic agents such as low pathogenic avian influenza, therefore hindering the nation’s ability to prevent the potentially devastating spread of a disease before it develops. Furthermore, the system as a whole lacks integration, not only within the federal system, but also among federal agencies and programs directed through states or animal health organizations.
In addition, despite the number of federal agencies responsible for aspects of animal health policy (as shown in Table 4-1), there is a lack of federal oversight of the animal-centered aspects of zoonotic diseases. The monkeypox outbreak revealed no equivalent federal responsibility and only a limited federal animal health infrastructure for addressing a zoonotic disease outbreak transmitted by nonlivestock species.
Economic environments, social structures, and management practices are unique to different regions, requiring flexibility and tailored responses