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Experts call for closer wildlife monitoring to prevent future pandemics
Closer wildlife monitoring of wildlife is required to prevent future pandemics, a group of wildlife experts has warned.

Scientists recommend increase in laboratory testing closer to areas of risk.

Closer monitoring of wildlife is required to prevent future pandemics such as COVID-19 from occurring, a group of wildlife experts has warned.

Writing in the journal Science, experts from the Wildlife Disease Surveillance Focus Group set out several recommendations for improving how wildlife can be better tested and tracked.

The group, which includes researchers from the University of Edinburgh, calls for an increase in laboratory testing capacity at or near locations where humans and wildlife interact. Currently, 62 per cent of laboratories that screen for animal pathogens are located in North America and Europe, which does not reflect the areas at most risk of emerging diseases,the researchers said.

The group also notes that improvements in testing technology could help decentralize testing capacity, for example by using portable DNA sequencing technology.
Such technology is already being trialled at the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with the governments of Zambia and Malaysia, in a project led by the TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network.

Furthermore, the group recommends the creation of a central publicly-accessible database for recording the characteristics of animal viruses to help monitor the risk of crossover to humans.
Researchers say this would allow any scientists to see how pathogens are evolving, how common they are worldwide and identify early mitigation measures, including antiviral treatments or vaccines.

“We know that many diseases like COVID19 can cross from animals to humans but we don’t focus enough on the animal side of the human-animal equation,” explained Professor Anna Meredith, chair of zoological and conservation medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.
“Locally-driven surveillance and responses will empower local wildlife and public health professionals to constantly monitor for pathogens at source and improve the likelihood of prevention or early mitigation of future crossover events.” 

 

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Defra extends applications to Zoo Animals Fund

News Story 1
 Defra has extended the deadline for applications for the 100 Million Zoo Animals Fund until 26 February 2021.

Launched in June 2020, the fund provides financial support for zoos and aquariums that have experienced a drop in income caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Grants of up to 730,000 are available, which can be used to pay for essential costs and maintenance, including veterinary care, medicines, animal feed and staffing.

More information about the fund and details of how to apply can be found here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
APHA confirms eighth case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in England

The Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) has identified an eighth case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in poultry in England.

Confirmed on Tuesday (15 December), the outbreak was found in captive birds and poultry at a premises near Willington, South Derbyshire. A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been placed around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

Further information about the outbreaks and the latest government advice can be found at gov.uk