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K-State Today

January 19, 2018

Diagnostic professor Beckham publishes article on biological threat reduction in OIE publication

By Joe Montgomery

Tammy Beckham, a professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has recently published a special issue in the World Organisation for Animal Health's, or OIE, Scientific and Technical Review on biological threat reduction. The Department of Defense has distributed the content to its leadership and all employees. The published volume focuses on animal pathogens as bioweapons.

The special issue is contained in volume 36 (2), August 2017. The issue reviews animal diseases, including zoonoses that have the potential to negatively impact economies, the environment, society and public health.

The following is a summary of the issue: 

Animal diseases, including zoonoses, have the potential to negatively impact economies, the environment, society and public health. It is currently thought that more than 60 percent of human diseases and more than 80 percent of agents that can be used for bioterrorism are of animal origin. The emergence and spread of animal diseases, including zoonoses, is at an all-time high. This increase in disease emergence and spread is thought to be the result of an increase in intensive farming, global travel, human pressure on ecosystems and social unrest.

This issue reviews the use of animal pathogens and zoonotic agents as bioweapons. More specifically, it examines their use throughout history, explores current disease trends and threats and evaluates the use of animals as sentinels for early detection of outbreaks affecting animals and/or humans, whether the outbreaks be of natural, accidental or deliberate origin.

In addition, it looks at the potential impacts of animal pathogens, including zoonotic agents, on economies, social unrest, food security and public health. It reviews current frameworks for an international response to a biological event and explores current United Nations mechanisms for response to an alleged use of biological agents. This volume also explores technological advances for early detection, surveillance and response to a disease event. It concludes by discussing systems for strengthening global biosecurity and resilience and considering methods of ensuring the sustainability of these systems.