Via Nature News: Better biosurveillance could halt disease spread. Excerpt:
Germany is still recovering from one of the world's worst outbreaks of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, which as of 18 June had sickened more than 3,200 people and caused 39 deaths.
The unusually deadly bacteria moved undetected through the food supply from livestock to agriculture to the dinner table, and the response to the outbreak was branded slow and inefficient by physicians and scientists (see 'Microbe outbreak panics Europe').
Now a group of health professionals assembled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, has called for biosurveillance efforts in the United States and worldwide to be streamlined to help recognize and respond to threats quickly.
"We are trying to create an international immune system, a system that has the capacity to recognize abnormalities," says Ian Lipkin, co-chair of the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee (NBAS) and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York.
The NBAS report, Improving the Nation's Ability to Detect and Respond to 21st Century Urgent Health Threats, is the second by the group originally assembled by former President George W. Bush over fears about bioterrorism. The report is now under consideration by the White House and the US Department of Health and Human Services.