The US and India signed a significant MoU that promises to set up a global disease detection centre in India by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta. The state-of-the-art laboratory will monitor deadly life threatening pathogens and viruses, outbreak information, coordinate responses and support the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network to allow rapid identification, confirmation and response to outbreaks of international importance. The MoU — signed by Dr L S Chauhan, director, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi — entails sharing best practices for detection and response to emerging infections, advanced training in field epidemiology, surveillance for deadly diseases and building laboratory capacity for their diagnosis using CDC’s reference materials.
India was the seventh country to host such a centre where activities are underway in influenza, zoonotic investigation and control and field epidemiology training. CDC set up its first such facility in 2004 funded by the Congress in the wake of the SARS outbreak. SARS experience showed that a highly pathogenic infectious disease can spread in days or weeks.
A focus of the India laboratory will be zoonotic diseases. Approximately 75% of recently identified emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are diseases of animal origin. Additionally, 80% of pathogens with a high potential for bioterrorism are zoonotic.