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Workshop Will Train Pathologists to Identify Animal Diseases Harmful to Humans

Veterinary and pathology experts from the Smithsonian Institution, University of Illinois and the Wildlife Conservation Society will conduct a five-day training workshop for pathologists in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia on how to identify and investigate unknown diseases.

While the workshop focus is on wildlife, the skills learned during the workshop can be applied to investigate diseases of any species, and are necessary to detect new and emerging diseases. This will be the first time a regional workshop of this type has been held.

The Oct. 17-21 workshop, hosted by the Hanoi University of Agriculture Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, is being conducted by PREDICT—an arm of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program launched in 2009 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The program seeks to aggressively preempt or combat, at their source, newly emerging zoonotic diseases that could threaten human health.  

Nearly 75 percent of all new, emerging or re-emerging diseases affecting humans at the beginning of the 21st century have originated in animals. HIV/AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H5N1 avian influenza and the pandemic 2009 HINI influenza virus are examples of how vulnerable today’s interconnected world is to the global impact of new emergent diseases.

The Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program emphasizes identifying and responding early to dangerous pathogens in animals before they can become significant threats to human health. USAID anticipates the program will enhance national, regional and local capacities for surveillance, laboratory diagnosis and field epidemiology in both the animal- and human-health sectors. These efforts aim to ultimately minimize the risk of new pandemic disease threats emerging and spreading. 

The pathology workshop will provide practical training for pathologists currently employed by PREDICT partner laboratories and other government laboratories in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Trainees from Vietnam include pathologists from the Hanoi University of Agriculture (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), the National Centre for Veterinary Diagnostics, the National Institute of Veterinary Research, and the Department of Animal Health (Epidemiology Division), all in Hanoi; and the Regional Animal Health Office No. 6 in Ho Chi Minh City. Trainees from Laos PDR and Cambodia include pathologists from the General Department of Livestock and Fisheries, Laos PDR, the National Veterinary Research Institute of Cambodia, and veterinarians from the Forestry Administration Department of Cambodia.