New Article: Animals as sentinels of chemical terrorism agents: an evidence-based review.

Authors: Rabinowitz P, Wiley J, Odofin L, Wilcox M, Dein FJ

Journal: Clinical Toxicology

Volume: 46

Issue: 2

Pages: 93-100

Abstract: OBJECTIVES: The goal of this systematic review was to identify evidence that animals could serve as sentinels of an attack with a chemical terrorism agent. METHODS: The biomedical literature was systematically searched for evidence that wild or domestic animals exposed to certain chemical weapons of terrorism had either greater susceptibility, shorter latency period, or increased exposure risk versus humans. Additionally, we searched for documented reports of such animals historically serving as sentinels for chemical warfare agents. RESULTS: For a small number of agents, there was limited evidence that domestic and/or wild animals could provide sentinel information to humans following an airborne attack with chemical agents, usually related to increased potential for environmental exposure. Some of this evidence was based on anecdotal case reports, and in many cases high quality chemical terrorism agent evidence regarding comparative susceptibility, exposure, and latency between humans and sentinel animal species was not found. CONCLUSION: Currently, there is insufficient evidence for routine use of animals as sentinels for airborne chemical warfare agents. At the same time, Poison Center surveillance systems should include animal calls, and greater communication between veterinarians and physicians could help with preparedness for a chemical terrorism attack. Further analysis of comparative chemical warfare agent toxicity between sentinel animal species and humans is needed.

Article on PubMed

New Article: From us vs. them to shared risk: can animals help link environmental factors to human health?

Authors: Rabinowitz P, Odofin L, Dein FJ

Journal: Ecohealth

Volume: 5

Issue: 2

Pages: 224-9

Abstract: Linking human health risk to environmental factors can be a challenge for clinicians, public health departments, and environmental health researchers. While it is possible that nonhuman animal species could help identify and mitigate such linkages, the fields of animal and human health remain far apart, and the prevailing human health attitude toward disease events in animals is an “us vs. them” paradigm that considers the degree of threat that animals themselves pose to humans. An alternative would be the development of the concepts of animals as models for environmentally induced disease, as well as potential “sentinels” providing early warning of both noninfectious and infectious hazards in the environment. For such concepts to truly develop, critical knowledge gaps need to be addressed using a “shared risk” paradigm based on the comparative biology of environment-host interactions in different species.

Article on PubMed

Surveillance For Human and Animal Disease: Progress and Pitfalls

On October 3, 2008, Dr. Rabinowitz presented Surveillance For Human and Animal Disease: Progress and Pitfalls at Princeton University’s Seminar on Biosecurity, Biotechnology and Global Health. View the slides!