Quality Meat Scotland is supporting a new cooperative network to help tackle zoonotic infections and disease which was launched today (May 18) in Edinburgh.
The network aims to bring together individuals and groups from academia, policy, government agencies, industry, veterinary and public health bodies to facilitate inter-disciplinary initiatives and innovative approaches to reduce the impact of zoonoses.
Zoonoses are diseases or pathogens transmitted between animals and people and can involve a wide range of infectious agents including, parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi and prions. Zoonotic pathogens may be transmitted by direct contact or through contaminated food or water supplies. Around 62% of all known human pathogens are zoonotic and 75% of emerging diseases are zoonotic. Prevention and control of zoonoses requires a coordinated approach involving many different sector groups, in particular those involved in veterinary, agriculture, land management, environmental and public health.
The keynote address at the launch meeting was given by Dr Roger Sokol, Director of the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Water Supply Protection. Dr Sokol is responsible for the regulatory supply of over 10 000 public water supplies in New York State. In his presentation Dr Sokol described their experience of protecting the watershed that provides 9 million people with 1.1 billion gallons of unfiltered drinking water every day.
Dr Sokol commented: “I applaud Scotland in establishing a cooperative research network focusing on zoonotic pathogens. I believe strongly in a cooperative approach and bringing different stakeholder groups together to focus on delivering effective control and prevention strategies. The cooperative watershed management approach taken in New York is an excellent example of how such an approach can really deliver results.”
The meeting was attended by Quality Meat Scotland and a wide range of different experts from Research Institutes, Universities, Government, Industry, Health Protection Scotland, Food Standards Agency Scotland, Scottish Water, National Pathogen Reference Laboratories, Land managers and other interested parties.
This initiative was developed from a meeting held last year at Moredun Research Institute to discuss how to tackle food and water borne pathogens. Following this meeting a steering group comprising Professor Chris Spray (UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee); Professor Charlotte Maltin (Quality Meat Scotland) pictured; Dr Anna Whyte (Food Standards Agency Scotland); Professor David Smith and Dr Lee Innes (Moredun Research Institute), was formed to take forward the proposals from this workshop.
Professor Chris Spray commented: “We are delighted to launch this network building on the aspirations and enthusiasm generated by participants in the original forum. The strength of this network will be the diversity of expertise and experience that we can bring to bear to tackle zoonoses within an integrated and holistic framework.”