What are the possible strategies to prevent future epidemics of infectious and parasitic diseases from animals to humans?

Quali sono le possibili strategie per prevenire le prossime epidemie di malattie infettive e parassitarie da animali all’uomo?

Is it possible that other pandemics will occur? 
How can we prevent them? 
How can research be integrated with public administration and public health institutions for the surveillance and control of these diseases? 
How should research shaped to find solutions for infectious diseases related to domestic animals that can have serious repercussions on the economy of territories based on agricultural and farming activities?
These are some of the questions that 20 international experts in zoonoses, diseases of
animals potentially transmissible to humans, tried to answer at an intensive workshop in

These experts coming from Algeria, Colombia, France, Italy, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, England, Egypt, Israel, South Africa, and Senegal, unanimously agreed that climate change is impacting vectors, for example mosquitoes, sandflies, midges and ticks.
These animals by sucking the blood of infected hosts (animals and humans), can pass dangerous parasitic, bacterial, and viral infections to the next person or animal. Many of the vector-borne diseases are known by many such as Bluetongue, West Nile Virus Fever, Malaria, Dengue, others are less known but of high medical and veterinary importance such as Epizootic Haemorrhagic Disease and Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever.

How is the climate influencing these diseases? 
The change in average temperatures is making many habitats of these vectors inhospitable, causing their migration. However, in other cases, it is making habitats that were once temperate, and therefore unsuitable for them, more favourable, thanks to the “tropicalisation” of these habitats (the most well-known example is the expansion of the Asian tiger mosquito in Europe). Having mosquitoes in December is unusual and unpleasant, but knowing that they can increase the possibility of transmitting bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections is certainly a much more serious problem.
Since we cannot reduce emissions to keep the global temperature 1.5°C above pre- industrial levels, climate-sensitive infectious diseases are increasing, as are their distribution ranges and transmission seasons. Based on current data and scenarios, models indicate an expansion of areas suitable for vector-borne diseases in Europe” reports Prof Camila Gonzalez Rosas, Director of the Department of Biological Sciences at Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, who came from Bogotá to contribute to the project.

Several researchers from Africa and the Middle East, which, along with other parts of the world, are considered “hotspots” for possible emergence and spread of new pathogens or vectors, warn on the global scale of vector-borne diseases context:
Europe and Africa are connected through the migratory routes of birds, animals, and obviously humans, which will continue to give rise to the emergence and re-emergence of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases,” comments Prof Marietjie Venter from the School of Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

What is the recipe for trying to prevent new infectious diseases? 
The answer from Dr Gioia Bongiorno of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità is very clear: “it is continuous surveillance. In fact, we can only prevent new infectious diseases through a timely surveillance system. This can be ensured by the coordination of the organisations demanded to the surveillance of diseases in animals and environment (e.g. insects), and the national health systems.”. But the number of pathogens and insects to monitor is growing rapidly, so it is necessary to develop increasingly high-performance and universal diagnostic systems for both pathogens and vectors, requiring strategic collaborations between academia, business, third sector and local and national governments.

Therefore cross-border cooperation is essential, because having a very efficient surveillance system might not be enough if your “neighbour” does not have one, or simply, as often happens, there is no communication between health authorities of neighbouring geographical regions. 
We are working to intensify collaboration systems between different regions and nations in the Mediterranean Basin, in the first instance, with the ultimate goal to expand a unified system to North Europe” highlighted the three organizers of the workshop, Dr Luigi Sedda from Lancaster University, and Prof Antonio Varcasia and Prof Alberto Alberti from the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sassari.

The need for a unified system comes from the recent experiences with COVID19 pandemic but also from the large scale outbreak of West Nile virus in Europe. In addition, and only recently, the research group of Prof Alessandra Falchi, from the University of Pasquale Paoli (Corsica), recently isolated the virus of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in cattle in Corsica, a tick-borne disease that is quite severe and highly lethal in humans, in short, one of those diseases that precisely because of its transmission is now on the special watch list by researchers and public health institutions at national and international level.

The experts believe that it is the One Health approach that must be employed for effective surveillance: “The One Health approach is necessary to manage this type of diseases where there is transmission from animals to humans, strongly conditioned by the environment,” says Professor Alessandra Scagliarini from the University of Bologna. “COVID19 has taught us the devastating effects that spillover can have, that is, a pathogen’s jump between species; therefore, constant research and surveillance action on less known synanthropic species, such as reptiles, is very important” says Prof Jairo Mendoza Roldan from the University of Bari. Reptiles are in fact an example of neglected species in infectious disease research, highlighting the need of holistic approaches in health protection.

The workshop was sponsored by the Museof of Tonnara of Stintino and promoted by the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP), the Italian Society of Parasitology (SOIPA), Sardinia Tourism of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia, as well as by the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Sassari and the Lancaster University.

Trans-mediterranean zoonosis prevention surveillance network - HIGHLIGHTS - 2024