The USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats Predict Project: Detecting and Discovering Zoonotic Viral Pathogens in Wildlife to Mitigate Emerging Infectious Disease Pandemics in People
Most emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are zoonotic, and a high proportion originates in wildlife in the developing world. Population growth and environmental change bring people into contact with wildlife in unprecedented ways and more frequently, yet impoverished countries lack the resources and infrastructure necessary to detect and respond to EIDs in a timely, effective manner. The USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT project, led by the UC Davis One Health Institute with EcoHealth Alliance, Metabiota, Inc., Wildlife Conservation Society, and Smithsonian Institution, is advancing capacity for EID detection and control by conducting targeted pathogen surveillance in high-risk wildlife at human-wildlife interfaces in EID hotspots. This global approach to surveying wildlife for zoonotic pathogens has never before been attempted on this scale. PREDICT is establishing infrastructure (laboratories, protocols, equipment), training hundreds of health professionals, and promoting the integration of human, domestic animal and wildlife health across governmental sectors in 20 countries. This is enabling the detection of known and new viral pathogens that could impact human health, but also increasing capacity for wildlife health diagnostics and protection in these biodiverse regions. Since 2010, more than 35,000 wild animals have been humanely sampled resulting in the discovery of more than 200 novel viruses. PREDICT has played a key role in investigating the cause of human and wildlife disease outbreaks, and is creating mathematical models as tools for predicting zoonotic pathogen emergence. Looking ahead, all partners are aiming for full operationalization and sustainability of One Health, ultimately benefiting people, their domestic animals, and wildlife.