New Article: Human and animal sentinels for shared health risks.

Authors: Rabinowitz, P, Scotch M, Conti L

Journal: Veterinaria Italiana

Volume: 45

Issue: 1

Pages: 23-34

Abstract: The tracking of sentinel health events in humans in order to detect and manage disease risks facing a larger population is a well accepted technique applied to influenza, occupational conditions and emerging infectious diseases. Similarly, animal health professionals routinely track disease events in sentinel animal colonies and sentinel herds. The use of animals as sentinels for human health threats, or of humans as sentinels for animal disease risk, dates back at least to the era when coal miners brought caged canaries into mines to provide early warning of toxic gases. Yet the full potential of linking animal and human health information to provide warning of such ‘shared risks’ from environmental hazards has not been realised. Reasons appear to include the professional segregation of human and animal health communities, the separation of human and animal surveillance data and evidence gaps in the linkages between human and animal responses to environmental health hazards. The ‘One Health initiative’ and growing international collaboration in response to pandemic threats, coupled with development in the fields of informatics and genomics, hold promise for improved sentinel event coordination in order to detect and reduce environmental health threats shared between species.

Link to article on journal’s website.

Advertisements

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!

Canary Database Reports Podcasts 1 & 2

We’re happy to announce our first Canary Database Reports podcasts, hosted by Peter and Dan. Episode one features an introduction to the Canary Database, from its origins to its latest features. Episode two features a discussion of our recent paper on Animals as Sentinels of Bioterrorism Agents.

We think that these discussions will be a useful addition to our resources, and we have additional episodes planned in the near future, so stay tuned!

To subscribe to the Canary Database Reports podcast, visit iTunes here or point other podcast catchers right at our podcast feed: podcast.canarydatabase.org/feed.xml.

Let us know what you think!

New features: Full text article links

The Canary Database now attempts to create links to library full text link servers (known in libraries as “OpenURL resolvers”) for many hundreds of libraries. If you’re using the Canary Database from an academic campus, there’s a good chance you’ll see links from articles in our database back to your own library’s online journals. Follow these links to get to full text just like you would any other time you see the link buttons from your library!

We’re not certain, but we think this is the first time a small resource like ours has featured this kind of linking. If you want to know how to add this feature to your own database, contact us and we’ll fill you in.

New Article: Animals as Sentinels of Bioterrorism Agents

Animals as Sentinels of Bioterrorism Agents

Authors: Rabinowitz P, Gordon Z, Chudnov D, Wilcox M, Odofin L, Liu A, et al.

Journal: Emerg Infect Dis.

Year: 2006 Volume: 12 Issue: 4

ISSN: 1080-6059

Our latest publication is now available online!

Abstract:

“We conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature from 1966 to 2005 to determine whether animals could provide early warning of a bioterrorism attack, serve as markers for ongoing exposure risk, and amplify or propagate a bioterrorism outbreak. We found evidence that, for certain bioterrorism agents, pets, wildlife, or livestock could provide early warning and that for other agents, humans would likely manifest symptoms before illness could be detected in animals. After an acute attack, active surveillance of wild or domestic animal populations could help identify many ongoing exposure risks. If certain bioterrorism agents found their way into animal populations, they could spread widely through animal-to-animal transmission and prove difficult to control. The public health infrastructure must look beyond passive surveillance of acute animal disease events to build capacity for active surveillance and intervention efforts to detect and control ongoing outbreaks of disease in domestic and wild animal populations.”

Our latest publication is now available online!

Abstract:
<blockquote>"We conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature from 1966 to 2005 to determine whether animals could provide early warning of a bioterrorism attack, serve as markers for ongoing exposure risk, and amplify or propagate a bioterrorism outbreak. We found evidence that, for certain bioterrorism agents, pets, wildlife, or livestock could provide early warning and that for other agents, humans would likely manifest symptoms before illness could be detected in animals. After an acute attack, active surveillance of wild or domestic animal populations could help identify many ongoing exposure risks. If certain bioterrorism agents found their way into animal populations, they could spread widely through animal-to-animal transmission and prove difficult to control. The public health infrastructure must look beyond passive surveillance of acute animal disease events to build capacity for active surveillance and intervention efforts to detect and control ongoing outbreaks of disease in domestic and wild animal populations."</blockquote>

Create an account to save records, sets

New at canarydatabase.org is the ability to save records that interest you. Registered users can save any record with a single click, and can save records into different sets however you like. For example, if you’re studying sheep as sentinel animals, and separately preparing a paper on animals as sentinels of bioterrorism, you could create one set for each — “sheep”, and “bioterrorism”, and then save any records you find in the database to one, the other, or both sets. All with just a few quick clicks!

Viewing saved records and sets

To get started, register for an account using the link at left. Check your email inbox for a verification message, and when you’ve followed its instructions (they’re easy, we promise!), log in to the site.

Now that you’re logged in, you’ll see checkboxes next to all the records you find in the database. Click them to save them… it’s that easy!

To review your saved records, or limit a search to only your saved records, click on the link for My page at left. You’ll be able to see and search your records right there, and from here you can also get started creating sets.

Saving records in sets is just as easy as saving records… click a record you want to save, and your sets will automatically be listed right there under the record. Click the set name to save it into, and you’re done!

It’s all easy, useful, and best of all… it’s free!

Presentation from seminar at Colorado State University

The presentation given by Dr. Rabinowitz at CSU recently is now available online here.

Animal Sentinels Seminar at Colorado State University

Dr. Rabinowitz is leading a seminar on animals as sentinels of human environmental health hazards today at the Lory Student Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Welcome seminar attendees!

Press Release: Animals Warn of Human Health Hazards in New Canary Database

New Haven, Conn. — Yale School of Medicine has launched a state-of-the-art database funded in part by the National Library of Medicine, called the Canary Database, containing scientific evidence about how animal disease events can be an early warning system for emerging human diseases.

There have long been reports of animals succumbing to environmental hazards before humans show signs of illness, according to the project’s leader, Peter Rabinowitz, M.D., associate professor of medicine in The Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program at Yale University School of Medicine.

“This concept of a ‘canary in a coal mine’ suggests that animals may be useful sentinels for human environmental health hazards,” said Rabinowitz. He points to the practice in the United States and Britain where coal miners would bring canaries into coal mines as an early warning signal for carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases. The birds, being more sensitive, would become sick before the miners, who would then have a chance to escape or put on protective respirators.

Rabinowitz said several episodes of illness in animals have been clearly linked to human health threats, including cats and mercury poisoning, and more recently wild bird mortality and West Nile Virus infection.

Rabinowitz said non-human animals could be more sensitive to many of the agents that are potential biological or chemical weapons and could therefore serve as “sentinels” for a terrorist attack. At the same time, the public health system has been slow to use animal sentinel data to detect and reduce human environmental health hazards. Rabinowitz said there is a lack of ongoing scientific communication between animal health and human health professionals about emerging disease threats. This has made it difficult to assemble the evidence about linkages between animal diseases and human health.

To address this need, Rabinowitz and his team developed The Canary Database of Animals as Sentinels of Human Environmental Health Hazards, a web-based collection of animal sentinel studies that have been collected and curated in terms of their relevance to human health. The project represents a collaborative effort between the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, the Yale Center for Medical Informatics and the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center.

The database team is currently developing a series of evidence-based reviews focusing on the use of animal sentinel data in human health decision-making. “To do this,” Rabinowitz said, “we have to apply the principles of evidence-based medicine to a whole new field: the interface of animal and human health.”

Meanwhile, experts at the Yale Center for Medical Informatics are creating state-of-the-art knowledge integration software and information visualization tools allowing users to explore the rich database. Animal health experts at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the nation’s primary wildlife disease research facility, provided background on potential disease transmission between humans and wildlife for emerging diseases such as monkey pox, SARS, Avian influenza, West Nile Virus and Chronic Wasting Disease.

To access the database, please visit http://canarydatabase.org/.