Just as national surveillance is critical to controlling outbreaks within a nation,
global surveillance is a critical component to responding to infectious disease worldwide. Among the strongest measures promoting worldwide infectious disease surveillance are the WHO
’s revised International Health Regulations, which entered into force in 2007. These require WHO member states to report certain diseases and outbreaks that may represent public health emergencies of international concern to the WHO and to strengthen their capacities for public health surveillance, diagnosis, and response. In addition, the CDC
’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, an integrated and comprehensive partnership of local, national, and global health authorities, works to prevent, detect, and contain infectious diseases in countries of origin and at U.S. ports of entry.
By identifying viruses, bacteria, and parasites in animals where they naturally live, and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations.
Technological advances in disease surveillance and detection such as regional syndromic surveillance, bioinformatics, and rapid diagnostic methods, have strengthened infectious disease control and prevention efforts. The global response to SARS, for example, was triggered by a report posted to the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases—or ProMED Mail—a global electronic reporting system for outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases and toxins.
Other networks are beginning to listen in on what scientists call “viral chatter”—the seemingly commonplace transmission of animal viruses to humans in parts of the world where the two populations overlap, such as live-animal markets or urban areas carved out of tropical rainforests. By identifying viruses, bacteria, and parasites in animals where they naturally live, and monitoring those organisms as they move from animals into people, it may be possible to prevent deadly new infections of animal origin from entering and racing through human populations. The One Health Initiative, a worldwide movement to forge collaborations among physicians, veterinarians, and other related professions, is an example of efforts to improve communication about human and animal diseases.