The connections between zoonotic diseases, animal agriculture and human health will be examined at an international, multi-disciplinary symposium, organized by Farm Foundation, NFP.  The symposium will be Sept. 23-24, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, D.C.
 
"The recent H1N1 outbreak is one in a long series of disease outbreaks that has raised questions about the relationship between the diseases, agricultural production systems and human health," says Farm Foundation, NFP Vice President Sheldon Jones.  "An understanding of the risks and interactions is critical to health professionals working with humans and animals, policy makers and regulators.  This symposium is designed to help build a systematic knowledge of those relationships."
 
The symposium is targeted to the multiple disciplines involved in any disease outbreak- public health officials, epidemiologists, virologists, veterinarians, agriculture producer groups and media representatives, particularly those responsible for health, science and agricultural coverage. 
 
"Each profession has a key role in the prevention or management of a zoonotic disease outbreak," says symposium coordinator H.L. Goodwin, University of Arkansas.  "Yet none of the professions can work in isolation.  The need to collaborate is critical as they work to identify critical risk points, improve the effectiveness of surveillance and monitoring programs, and make decisions on quarantines and trade restrictions."
 
The program is designed to clarify specific issues in the relationships between animal agriculture and human health, broaden understanding of the relationship between diverse production systems and practices and zoonotic diseases, and identify questions that need more research or attention.
 
While substantial research on zoonoses exists within individual disciplines, much of it is focused on individual diseases.  Research is lacking that can provide a holistic understanding of the relationship between agricultural production systems, zoonotic disease and human health. Among the symposium presenters will be: 

            Kevin Walker of Michigan State University,
            William Karesh of the Wildlife Conservation Society,
            Marguerite Pappaioanou of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges,
            Juan Lebroth of the United Nation's Food Agriculture Organization
            David Heymann of the Centre on Global Health Security, United Kingdom.
 
To build the symposium program, Farm Foundation brought together a diverse planning committee of representatives from academia, the veterinary health community, public health agencies, livestock production and the media.  The resulting program features experts from multiple disciplines and from around the world.  The program emphasizes the need for science-based and cohesive communication between the multiple disciplines involved in any disease outbreak.

In addition to the program sessions, the symposium will feature a poster session, with abstracts to be evaluated in three areas:  wildlife populations, commercial animal agricultural systems, and human health concerns.  Details are posted on the Farm Foundation Web site, www.farmfoundation.org

The symposium is a program of Farm Foundation, NFP with support provided by USDA's Economic Research Service and Animal Plant Health Inspection Service; Hormel Foods; the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials; the U.S. Animal Health Association; and the American Veterinary Medical Association. 
 
Details of the conference program, as well as on-line registration are available at the Farm Foundation Web site. Conference registration is $300 if paid by Sept. 1, 2010, after which the fee will be $350. 
 
A block of sleeping rooms has been reserved at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C.  Hotel reservations can be made by calling (202) 582-1234 or 800-233-1234.  The symposium room rate of $209 per night, single or double occupancy, is available for reservations made by Aug. 25, 2010.
 
For more information:
Sheldon Jones, Farm Foundation, (630) 571-9393
Mary Thompson, Farm Foundation, (630) 571-9393