VIENTIANE – Today, the Lao PDR’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry launched a new U.S.-funded project to help identify viruses that have the potential to move from animals to humans.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed by Lao officials and representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development project, teams will begin taking samples from wild animals, domestic animals and humans in Champasak Province this year. By collecting samples from humans, their livestock and wildlife that come into close contact, the partnership is taking an important, new step toward demonstrating how viruses can be shared.
“These programs in the Lao PDR and around the world help us better understand how diseases emerge so we can develop strategies to prevent outbreaks and lessen the risk of pandemics,” said Beth Paige, Director for the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia. “Keeping people and their livestock safe from infectious disease will also strengthen rural livelihoods and food security and help support a robust economy.”
In Laos, the USAID program, implemented by Metabiota Inc ,collaborates with the Department of Livestock and Fisheries, the National Animal Health Laboratory and the National Center for Laboratories and Epidemiology, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to implement synchronized animal and human disease surveillance.
Working with host governments in 31 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including the Government of Lao PDR, this U.S.-funded program is working to detect and prevent spillover of viruses with pandemic potential that can be transmitted between animals and humans.