, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 98–103 | Cite as

Early Detection of Emerging Zoonotic Diseases with Animal Morbidity and Mortality Monitoring

  • Isabelle-Anne BissonEmail author
  • Benard J. Ssebide
  • Peter P. Marra
Original Contribution


Diseases transmitted between animals and people have made up more than 50% of emerging infectious diseases in humans over the last 60 years and have continued to arise in recent months. Yet, public health and animal disease surveillance programs continue to operate independently. Here, we assessed whether recent emerging zoonotic pathogens (n = 143) are known to cause morbidity or mortality in their animal host and if so, whether they were first detected with an animal morbidity/mortality event. We show that although sick or dead animals are often associated with these pathogens (52%), only 9% were first detected from an animal morbidity or mortality event prior to or concurrent with signs of illness in humans. We propose that an animal morbidity and mortality reporting program will improve detection and should be an essential component of early warning systems for zoonotic diseases. With the use of widespread low-cost technology, such a program could engage both the public and professionals and be easily tested and further incorporated as part of surveillance efforts by public health officials.


zoonotic diseases disease detection disease surveillance morbidity mortality 



We thank C. Chapman and A. M. Kilpatrick for valuable comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats program, PREDICT project.

Supplementary material

10393_2014_988_MOESM1_ESM.docx (168 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 167 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabelle-Anne Bisson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benard J. Ssebide
    • 2
  • Peter P. Marra
    • 1
  1. 1.Migratory Bird CenterSmithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological ParkWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Mountain Gorilla Veterinary ProjectKampalaUganda

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