U.S. experts worry about animal diseases

July 19, 2005 at 12:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- U.S. livestock experts are voicing increased concern about possible invasion of foreign microbes that could devastate the dairy, beef and pork industries.

In an effort to prevent such an occurrence, a national panel of experts is urging a major overhaul of the U.S. system that confronts new and emerging animal-borne diseases, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News said Tuesday.

A federal report released Monday concludes the nation's animal health structure -- including the laboratories responsible for identifying potential epidemics -- responds too slowly, is poorly coordinated and too narrowly focused to stop epidemics that might threaten animals or spread to humans.

The report prepared by the National Research Council says the emergence of illnesses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, mad cow disease, avian flu and West Nile virus necessitates being better prepared to control the global spread of disease.

The report also noted a diminishing number of veterinary researchers in the United States is making it more difficult to meet such challenges, the Mercury News said.

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