World-renowned scientists are meeting today at the Emerging Infectious Diseases Symposium (EIDS2012), in Geelong, Victoria, to help improve our ability to protect people and animals from increasing biosecurity threats, such as Hendra virus and dengue fever.

The Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID) is hosting the two-day Symposium, which is bringing together the critical areas of One Health – a combined approach to animal, human and environmental health.

According to Professor Martyn Jeggo, the director of CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), emerging infectious diseases are a serious concern.

“In Australia we have seen the damage a Hendra virus outbreak can cause, and globally we witnessed the emergence of SARS and how rapidly it spread from animals to people, and then around the world,” Professor Jeggo said.

“This meeting is providing us with an opportunity to share research into new diagnostic tools, drivers for emergence of disease and innovative control strategies that will allow us to not only respond to disease outbreaks more effectively but explore ways to predict where and when the next pandemic might strike.”

One of the meeting highlights includes updates on the progress of Hendra virus research projects that were funded by the Intergovernmental Hendra Virus Taskforce in 2011, under the National Hendra Virus Research Program. This will include work on bat ecology, surveillance tools, pathogenesis and Hendra virus vaccines.

“While much of this research is in the early stages, we need to maintain and continue adding to the number of tools that we have to help effectively manage the risks from this devastating virus,” Professor Jeggo said.

Conference host GCEID is an innovative research partnership between CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Barwon Health and Deakin University focused on identifying, monitoring and developing treatments for new infectious diseases as they spread between animals and people.

To further promote effective national collaboration and coordination of emerging infectious disease research, scientists from CSIRO’s Biosecurity Flagship, along with representatives from GCEID, the Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Sydney Emerging Infections and Biosecurity Institute will present their work.

The following experts are among the EIDS2012 key note speakers:

  • W. Ian Lipkin – Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and Professor of Neurology  and Pathology at College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, USA
  • Ralph Tripp – Centre for Disease Intervention, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, USA
  • Ashley St John – Emerging Infectious Diseases Program, Duke National University of Singapore, Singapore.

For further information please visit the official website: EIDS2012 (Emerging Infectious Diseases Symposium) [wiki site].

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