Veterinary Center for Infectious Disease

On the frontlines of infectious disease: Vets do more than you ever imagined.



It All Adds Up:
Nine Things You Need to Know About Infectious Disease
1 Infectious diseases can cause tremendous suffering to animals and crippling economic losses to the people who rely on them for their livelihoods. They represent an enormous threat to Pennsylvania's food and fiber industry.
2 Infection with Avian Influenza A (H5N1) has been fatal in 60% of human cases, so the ongoing outbreak in birds in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Near East poses a potent public health threat.
3 Greater than 60% of all infectious diseases of animals can also affect humans. These types of infections are called "zoonotic infections." Avian Influenza is an example of a zoonotic disease. Others include West Nile Virus, Rabies, Lyme Disease, Hantavirus, Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis ("Mad Cow Disease"), Leptospirosis, and E. Coli.
4 Two recent reports from the National Research Council warn that our society's need to protect itself from zoonotic threats is outgrowing the veterinary knowledge base and that there is an urgent need to increase the number of veterinarians with expertise in infectious disease research.
5 While vaccines and medicines can protect against many important infectious diseases, significant existing and emerging threats remain, against which we have little recourse.
6 The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is committed to improving the health of animals through research on infectious diseases. The School is home to expertise in virology, bacteriology, parasi-tology, immunology (the study of how the body responds to infection) and epidemiology (which among other things seeks to understand the dynamics of infectious disease transmission). In addition, the School resides at the heart of one of the most vibrant biomedical research centers in the country, and is home to two of the world's leading veterinary hospitals.
7 The School of Veterinary Medicine is home to more than 10 research laboratories dedicated to the study of infections. At any given time, more than 50 young scientists are in training in these laboratories.
8 The Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, which provides frontline surveillance for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases throughout Pennsylvania, is an integral part of the School of Veterinary Medicine, the only school of its kind in the commonwealth.