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15 May 2004 08:30:00 Est - Updated
Contact: Stephen M. Apatow  (203) 668-0282

Biodefense: Education resources target medical and veterinary professionals worldwide

April 17 (HRI) - Biodefense and emerging infectious diseases such as Anthrax, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, Mad Cow Disease), Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Influenza and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) have overwhelmed the headlines. 

80% of "emerging" infections are animal based (Martin Hugh Jones, Director, WHO Collaborating Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems for Public Health), outlining the significance of the veterinary profession as a key player in collaborative research associated with the international threat of bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases.

As outlined in the CDC resource Influenza Pandemics: How They Start, How They Spread, and Their Potential Impact:

"The reservoir for Type A influenza viruses is wild birds, but influenza A viruses also infect animals such as pigs and horses, as well as people. The last two pandemic viruses were combinations of bird and human influenza viruses. Many persons believe that these new viruses emerged when an intermediate host, such as a pig, was infected by both human and bird influenza A viruses at the same time. A new virus was created. Events in Hong Kong in 1997, however, showed that this is not the only way that humans can become infected with a novel virus. Sometimes, an avian influenza virus can "jump the species barrier" and move directly from chickens to humans and cause disease."

According to Heinen, Swine influenza and public health implications:

"Around 1970, following the human 'Hong Kong' flu pandemic, the human H3N2 virus was transmitted to pigs. This human-like swine H3N2 virus continued to circulate, particularly in Europe and Asia, but only sporadically caused clinical signs. It has only started causing clinical disease since 1984, probably as a result of a reassortment with the avian-like swine H1N1 virus. The new virus was a reassortment human-like swine H3N2 virus with the HA and NA of the human virus and all the internal proteins of the avian virus. It has since replaced the original H3N2 virus in Europe. It was only recently that H3N2 started to circulate in the US, where it has caused serious illness and reproductive losses in sows. The viruses evolved from reassortments involving classical H1N1 and human H3N2 viruses and are antigenically and genetically distinct from the European human-like H3N2 viruses."

While public health is focused on health promotion, early diagnosis and disease prevention, agriculture represents one of America’s critical infrastructures, worth hundreds of billions of dollars that directly or indirectly employs millions of people. 

Though significant progress has been made since the September 11 attacks, concerns remain regarding the deliberate introduction of a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) in multiple locations and/or with multiple pathogens that could potentially overwhelm an emergency response system.  In the context of this assessment, it is crucial that solid contingency plans and education initiatives are established to handle any threat against the U.S. food and agricultural system.

In an effort to enhance access to education resources for medical and veterinary professionals, Humanitarian Resource Institute has mediated the development of the following online programs.

Zoonotic Disease Online Course

The objective of this education initiative to enhance the capability of the medical and veterinary professional to suspect and assist in the diagnosis of zoonotic diseases that include, Bacterial, Cestode, Fungal, Nematode, Protozoan, Rickettsial, Trematode, Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies and Viral classifications.

The Zoonotic Disease Review Online Test encompasses 135 questions (True/False) related to the Zoonotic Disease Review materials. 

For additional information, visit:

Foreign Animal Disease Online Course

The objective of this education initiative to enhance the capability of the veterinary professional to suspect and assist in the diagnosis of a foreign disease in livestock or companion animals.  This course is designed in a self-study format whereby the student utilizes the online educational resources to learn the definitions, etiology, host range, geographic distribution, transmission, incubation period, pathogenesis, clinical signs, gross legions, diagnosis, control and eradication and public health variables associated with the Foreign Animal Diseases. 

The Foreign Animal Diseases Online Test encompasses 200 questions (True/False) related to the foreign animal diseases outlined in the study materials. 

For additional information, visit:

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Enrollees should check with their state's regulatory board to ensure acceptance of online continuing education credit for the purposes of state license requirements.

Stephen M. Apatow, President and Director of Research and Development, of the nonprofit organization Humanitarian Resource Institute, is a specialist in strategic planning and project development of initiatives associated with human medicine, veterinary medicine and U.S. and international law. Current programs include the internet based Biodefense Reference Library, Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center, Bioinformatics: Pathobiological Diagnostics Center and Biodefense Legal Reference Library. To enhance collaboration between Humanitarian Resource Institute and the international community of scholars, the Humanitarian University Consortium was formed to enhance the development of initiatives associated with economic, social, cultural and humanitarian issues worldwide. 

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