Predicting the Next Outbreak

A new coalition wants to set up an early warning system for diseases that pass between animals and humans. Samara Freemark reports some research institutions and conservation groups are launching the PREDICT program.

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A new coalition wants to set up an early warning system for diseases that pass between animals and humans. Samara Freemark reports some research institutions and conservation groups are launching the PREDICT program.

Organizers hope the program will help prevent the spread of diseases like avian flu, ebola, and swine flu. PREDICT researchers will work in disease 'hotspots' overseas.

Program director Stephen Morse is an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York. He says the program will identify new viruses in animals before they spread to humans.

"We don't even know how may emerging viruses, let alone other infectious organisms there are out there in nature, but the number must be large."

The PREDICT program will also create better global disease warning systems.

"This is really essential to our survival as well as something very important to understand if we want to be able to control infections in the future."

Morse hopes the program will help governments stop local outbreaks before they become global pandemics.

For The Environment Report, I'm Samara Freemark.