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Animal Health at the Crossroads: Preventing, Detecting, and Diagnosing Animal Diseases
Difficulty in obtaining or producing the agent.
Physical and biological security of the plants that manufacture animal feeds, animal medicinals, and vaccines.
An active national surveillance program.
Vulnerability to animal disease as an agricultural terrorist threat agent is increased by
Limited effectiveness of border controls (for example, inspection procedures that are not developed with terrorists in mind, with a small proportion of luggage inspected at ports of entry).
The small number and low sensitivity of diagnostic tests to detect an agent in living animals or animal tissues.
A high resistance of an agent to inactivation by physical and chemical treatments.
Lack of full compliance with regulations in place to control or eradicate the disease.
A long incubation period from exposure to onset of disease, which would allow time for terrorists to escape detection and for wide dissemination of infected animals before discovery.
An unwarranted degree of public concern over the disease, which could leverage a small number of cases or a hoax into an event with major adverse economic, social, and political effects.
Modern molecular field tests for animal diseases of concern need to be validated and introduced by USDA regionally and encouraged locally.
Vaccine stocks for animal diseases of concern need to be modernized and expanded.
Research should be performed to develop vaccines suitable for specific disease subtypes.
The United States should investigate the global eradication of those animal diseases posing significant threats and cooperate with international agricultural and wildlife experts in doing so. A continuing international mechanism to identify measures needed for global eradication of particular diseases should be established. Through such a mechanism, a global vaccination and eradication strategy could be developed with the participation of diverse experts and stakeholders. This could be a win-win situation for the United States and for other countries.
Widespread distribution of potential vector species increases the potential public health and economic impacts of a zoonotic disease.
It is essential for an effective response to have in place an infrastructure of disease surveillance and response systems, as well as cooperation and communication among agricultural, wildlife, and public health organizations.