Safeguarding Species…and Standing Watch
Diseases aren’t always limited to a single species. Many can pass between animal and human populations, impacting both with serious consequences. These zoonotic diseases include West Nile virus, rabies, highly pathogenic avian influenza (aka, “bird flu”) and many others.
Zoonotic diseases are naturally of interest to zoos and aquariums. The motivation is twofold. First, zoological institutions obviously want to protect the animals in their care against infection. But second, the regular monitoring of zoo animals provides a unique opportunity to detect zoonotic threats as they first appear, protecting visitors, employees and the surrounding community as well.
Hosted by the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, the Zoo Animal Health Network (ZAHN) develops frameworks to bring partners together to monitor for zoonotic diseases. ZAHN is a collaborative effort shared by Lincoln Park Zoo, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Planet Inspection Service, Animal Care.
By developing best practices and bringing experts together for training exercises, ZAHN helps ensure that zoological institutions and their communities are prepared for zoonotic diseases—and other emergencies as well.