How Does Environmental Sampling Aid Zoonotic Disease Surveillance?
How Does Environmental Sampling Aid Zoonotic Disease Surveillance?

How Does Environmental Sampling Aid Zoonotic Disease Surveillance?

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Environmental sampling techniques like analyzing animal feces, urine and saliva can reveal important information about zoonotic pathogens without needing to directly handle or capture wildlife. This non-invasive approach minimizes disruption of animal habitats while enabling monitoring of microbes that may spillover to humans.

What can genetic analysis reveal about pathogens in wildlife?

Powerful genomic technologies have expanded capabilities for discovering novel microbes and characterizing their evolutionary relationships. Metagenomic sequencing of environmental samples can detect unculturable microbes, helping establish connections between pathogens found in wildlife and emerging human outbreaks. Recent viral discoveries rely significantly on sampling animal excreta.

Why focus surveillance on bats and rodents?

As highly diverse small mammal groups with sizable, far-ranging populations, bats and rodents provide opportunities for pathogens to multiply andmutate. Their close proximity to humans also raises spillover risks. Rodents are implicated in numerous outbreaks while bats harbor deadly viruses like Ebola. Monitoring their microbiomes is key for zoonotic preparedness.

How does environmental sampling aid outbreak prediction?

Non-invasive sampling allows tracking microbes in species like bats over time, revealing long-term shedding patterns and seasonal peaks that signal heightened spillover risk. Initial detection of pathogens establishing themselves in new hosts or showing unusually high prevalence can inform protective interventions before substantial spillover occurs.

What techniques optimize sampling?

Strategically setting sampling sheets across extensive animal habitats and pooling samples to balance sensitivity and specificity improves surveillance efficiency. Emerging CRISPR-based molecular techniques offer inexpensive, rapid pathogen detection even for remote settings. Future integration of genomic analysis, ecological modeling and coordinated sampling will strengthen predictive capacities.

Click to View → Mantacc ST-25 PBS Environmental Sampling Kit


Sanyal A, Agarwal S, Ramakrishnan U, Garg KM, Chattopadhyay B. Using Environmental Sampling to Enable Zoonotic Pandemic Preparedness. J Indian Inst Sci. 2022;102(2):711-730. doi: 10.1007/s41745-022-00322-z. Epub 2022 Sep 7. PMID: 36093274; PMCID: PMC9449264.

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