Zoos as Disease Sentinels: Piloting an Avian Influenza Surveillance System in Zoological Institutions
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2008
Julia Chosy1, PhD, MS; Dominic Travis1, DVM, MS; Yvonne Nadler1, DVM, MPH; Edward Wilkerson, Jr.1; Jan Mladonicky1; Colleen O’Donnell1; Pam Dennis2,3, DVM, PhD; Scott Larsen4,5, DVM, MS, DACZM; Darrel Styles6, DVM, PhD
1Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL, USA; 2Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland, OH, USA; 3The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA; 4Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento, CA, USA; 5University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 6USDA/APHIS/AC, Riverdale, MD, USA
Though the United States has been fortunate in thus far avoiding highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI), the risk remains that it could find its way to our shores. With the continued gap in knowledge on the full range of species susceptibility to AI, it is difficult to know with certainty the degree of risk posed by this disease to collection animals at zoological institutions. What is known is that interactions between wild birds and collection animals are a common occurrence at many zoos, and that zoological institutions are ideal sentinels for the detection of zoonotic diseases, like avian influenza, for a variety of reasons.
On behalf of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and with the support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Lincoln Park Zoo (LPZ) is launching a Zoonotic Emerging Disease Surveillance Center that will use zoological institutions across the country as disease sentinels to monitor for avian influenza virus. The system includes free sample diagnostics for participating institutions and access to real-time test results from a centralized, confidential database. This presentation will describe the surveillance system and its importance as a novel form of surveillance. Additionally, information obtained from the pilot test of the surveillance system regarding the role of avian influenza in captive populations is discussed.