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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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Zoo calls for volunteers in its hour of need

News Story 1
 As ZSL London Zoo begins to get back on its feet, the organisation is putting out a call for volunteers who have time to help out. It comes after three months of unprecedented closure, which has seen zoos across the UK come under enormous financial pressure.

Volunteers will be required to commit to a minimum of half a day each fortnight, helping to assist zoo visitors as they make their way around. Volunteer manager Rhiannon Green said: "We need cheery, flexible people who can help visitors enjoy their day while respecting the measures that keep everyone safe.

For more information, visit zsl.org. Posts are available at both London and Whipsnade Zoos. 

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News Shorts
BSAVA webinars to shine the spotlight on selected journal papers

A free series of webinars that take a closer look at selected papers published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice has been produced by the BSAVA.

In the new BSAVA Science webinar series, authors of the featured papers discuss their results with a panel and how they may impact clinical practice. The authors then answer questions submitted by audience members.

The webinars are available via the BSAVA Webinar Library, covering four different papers. JSAP editor Nicola Di Girolamo, said: "Discussing the research with the authors - experts in their field - really helps to bring the papers to life."