Emerging Infectious Diseases – South East Asia Research Collaboration Hub
EcoHealth Alliance’s EID-SEARCH is part of the NIAID-funded Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID) Network. EID-SEARCH is a collaboration among scientist leaders in emerging disease research in the USA, Thailand, Singapore, and the three major Malaysian administrative regions. The collaborative networks include more than 50 clinics, laboratories, and research institutes across Southeast Asian countries to better understand and respond to the risk of zoonotic viral emergence in Southeast Asia.
EID-SEARCH has three specific aims to identify, characterize, and assess:
- spillover risk of high zoonotic potential viruses from wildlife
- evidence and risk factors for viral spillover in high-risk communities
- viral etiology of undiagnosed clinical syndrome representing ‘cryptic’ outbreaks
Scientific Foundation of EID-SEARCH
Southeast Asia is one of the world’s highest-risk EID hotspots and the origin of the SARS pandemic, repeated outbreaks of novel influenza strains, and the spillover of dangerous viral pathogens such as Nipah virus. This is driven by high diversity of wildlife and rapidly expanding demography that brings human and wildlife populations closer. Substantial evidence have showed that diverse coronaviruses, henipaviruses, and filoviruses related to known human pathogens are circulating in wildlife reservoirs in Southeast Asia. These viruses likely spillover regularly to people, are often unreported or misdiagnosed, and their clinical manifestations and potential to cause pandemics are unknown and underestimated. Targeted surveillance and detection of spillover and illness in at-risk human populations will serve as an early warning system to conduct public health interventions and disrupt disease emergence.
Our Innovative Approach
EID-SEARCH employs a multidisciplinary approach that combines modeling to target geographic and taxonomic sampling targets with on-the-ground zoonotic disease surveillance in human and wildlife populations to better anticipate and identify early spillover events and pre-empt outbreaks of emerging viruses. The biological characterization is to assess the spillover risk of viruses and enables evaluation of existing countermeasure technologies. Strategic surveillance among both high-risk communities with extensive animal contact and syndromic clinical populations who present with signs of novel viral emergence allows us to identify risk of viral spillover in an early warning system approach.
The research at EID-SEARCH will advance our understanding of the risk of novel viral emergence in a uniquely important region. It will also strengthen in-country research capacity by linking local infectious disease scientists with an international collaborative network that has proven capacity to conduct this work and produce significant findings. The body of EID-SEARCH and its collaborative network, experience, and skillset will act as a unique early warning system for novel EIDs of any etiology threatening to emerge in this hottest of the EID hotspots.