The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD) received $2 million in federal funds from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate to develop a disease-surveillance technology designed to protect U.S. animal agriculture from potentially catastrophic outbreaks of infectious pathogens, according to John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System.  The project has the potential for a total $9 million investment over a three-year period.

The FAZD Center technology – known as the Enhanced Passive Surveillance (EPS) system – captures field information from veterinarians about livestock and poultry health in real-time. The information is then organized into an easy-to-use computer display for monitoring and analysis, combining it with other data coming from veterinary diagnostic laboratories, wildlife testing and livestock markets.

During a disease outbreak, the EPS system will improve the ability of emergency managers, state animal health officials and veterinarians to respond to situations as they develop.

“Ultimately, the EPS system will help to defend our food supply and to protect our animal agriculture industries and public health,” Sharp says. “This technology also demonstrates how highly targeted, university-level research can lead to practical products that benefit our economy and our security.”

The newly funded effort will roll out the EPS system to all major U.S. animal industries: beef cattle, dairy cattle, small ruminants (sheep and goats), poultry, swine and equine. In addition, the EPS system will collect data about wildlife (e.g., deer, feral swine, and wild birds) from veterinarians, veterinary and wildlife diagnostic laboratories, wildlife biologists, and wildlife organizations.

The system is planned for expansion to 15 U.S. states based on the geographical distribution of each industry to obtain a representative cross-section of participants. The system is currently being utilized in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.

Headquartered at Texas A&M, the FAZD Center performs research and develops products to defend the United States from high-consequence foreign animal and zoonotic diseases that may harm the animal agriculture economy, damage the food supply and threaten public health. These diseases may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes. Examples include avian influenza, foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever and Rift Valley fever.

To read more about this effort, go to http://fazd.tamu.edu/