fronting those potential hazards. Therefore, a comprehensive system to counter disease threats to animal agriculture is vital.
Recent epidemics of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom, foot-and-mouth disease in South Korea and Taiwan, and highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) in Asia provide salient examples of the magnitude and breadth of possible consequences associated with disease outbreaks. The global severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 demonstrates the effects of a disease that originated in animals and resulted in severe losses to individuals and many business sectors. Thus, whether they directly affect the health of animals only or whether they are transmitted from animals to humans, disease outbreaks have a major impact on agriculture, food security, and socioeconomic well-being.
THE ROLE OF A NATIONAL LABORATORY FACILITY IN AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM
Protecting US animal agriculture requires an integrated system that spans authorities, geography, and many programs and activities. The adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link applies to the complex systems needed to protect animal agriculture from the incursion of serious diseases and to address a riskier world. The committee addressed its study task in the context of an ideal integrated system for addressing FAD and zoonotic disease threats to the United States and considered what the role of a national biocontainment laboratory would be within such a system. The ideal system would capture and integrate the substantial human and physical assets distributed throughout the nation to address the threat of FADs and zoonotic diseases. It would include components of surveillance, diagnostics, and disease response and recovery. Research and development and workforce training are also critical core elements that support each of the functional arms (Figure S-1).
A national role in the coordination of the system is essential, and a federal laboratory or network of laboratories would be the cornerstone of an integrated system. The ideal system also reaches beyond national borders to tap the expertise and resources of the global infectious disease surveillance, diagnostic, and research communities. Recognizing the threat posed by zoonotic diseases and the known and potential roles that animals play in maintaining and transmitting infectious agents, the ideal system captures both human- and animal-health expertise and laboratory infrastructure to achieve common goals for disease recognition and response.
A substantial number of high-biocontainment (BSL-3 and BSL-4) laboratories have been constructed in the United States by federal and state agencies, universities, and private companies in the past 10 years. They provide an opportunity for collaborations that maximize national efforts to detect and respond to any incursion of an FAD or zoonotic disease. Strategic collaborations with other biocontainment facilities would also potentially enhance the efficient use of a