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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Canada : Needs to step up to prevent human infections

Via The Gazette :

" OTTAWA : Up to three-quarters of all emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals, but Canada doesn’t have an early-warning system to detect or prevent those illnesses.

Instead, public-health officials respond as outbreaks occur, which is neither smart nor economically sound with a resurgence in new viruses, experts say.

Last year’s H1N1 flu pandemic should serve as a wake-up call for the country to build a robust system to track diseases that could leap from animals to humans, says Donald Low, chief microbiologist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

The H1N1 virus — a hybrid of swine, bird and human flu — started in pigs, then jumped to humans, where it adapted to infect millions of people and kill an estimated 17,000 worldwide.

“Part of the problem that I think has been recognized with this pandemic is the major gaps and lack of surveillance that’s been done in animals,” says Low, who’s also medical director of Ontario’s public-health laboratories."

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