The University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine has launched a global early-warning system, called PREDICT, in an effort to find and control diseases that move between wildlife and people.
The system, which will be developed with funding of up to $75 million over five years, is one of five new initiatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development known in combination as the Emerging Pandemic Threats Program. The USAID is developing these initiatives to help prepare the world for infectious diseases such as H1N1 flu, avian flu, SARS and Ebola.
Davis’ primary PREDICT partners are the Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Trust, Global Viral Forecasting Inc. and Smithsonian Institution.
The team will be active in global hotspots where important wildlife host species have significant interaction with domestic animals and high-density human populations. This may include South America’s Amazon Basin, Africa’s Congo Basin and neighboring Rift Valley, South Asia’s Gangetic Plain and Southeast Asia. As activities in targeted regions come online, the team will focus on detecting disease-causing organisms in wildlife before they spill over into people.
Among the 1,461 pathogens recognized to cause diseases in humans, at least 60 percent are of animal origin, according to UC Davis.