Surveillance and Monitoring of Zoonoses


Effective surveillance is essential to understand pathogen epidemiology and consequently essential to the development of disease control programmes. The global spread of pandemic H1N1 and SARS demonstrated the need for international cooperation in tackling the challenges of zoonoses, and recent changes to international regulations and guidelines place increasing emphasis on the need for effective infectious disease surveillance and response capacities at the national level.

This study seeks to provide advice on future research and funding priorities for the identification of potential zoonoses hotspots by critiquing the costs and benefits of surveillance for neglected and emerging zoonoses and identifying the usefulness of past investments in surveillance and monitoring systems. To explore these objectives we review:

  • where on the global scale human and livestock disease surveillance is currently conducted;
  • the evaluation of surveillance systems and options for determining cost-effectiveness;
  • issues surrounding the recording, reporting and response to surveillance data in developing countries;
  • the use of innovative methods for the surveillance of zoonotic diseases;
  • the available data on budgets and costs of zoonoses surveillance.

Both peer-reviewed and grey literatures were considered, with 61 named zoonosis surveillance systems identified and summarised; 30% and 28% of these systems included surveillance of only human or only animal populations, respectively. Developing countries are more susceptible to infectious disease outbreaks, have less capacity to detect or report them, and are also least able to withstand the severe social and economic sanctions and consequences that often follow. However, we found that the developing world is currently severely underserved by surveillance systems for zoonoses

The lessons of past investment indicate that the greatest usefulness has been achieved through investment in core capacities that enhance the capacity for surveillance overall. It is therefore important that the best possible use is made of existing surveillance capacities and that future investment is directed towards better integration of existing systems and to identifying and filling current gaps in coverage at interfaces between human and animal populations.

The current gaps in surveillance capacity are predominantly focused in the developing world and there is a need to address the reasons for the underreporting in these regions. A key barrier is an absence of response when reports are made. The provision of a tangible response is essential to ensuring the sustainability of any surveillance system. To address global gaps in zoonoses surveillance capacity it is therefore necessary to prioritise research into the burden of existing endemic zoonoses for which effective response and control options exist. By investing in country-level response and surveillance systems that help to control endemic zoonoses, progress can be made towards tackling the health/development problems posed by zoonoses, demonstrating the practical benefits of surveillance and simultaneously helping to fill the gaps in the capacity of the global surveillance system to respond to future emerging threats.


Halliday, J.; Cleaveland, S.; Auty, H.; Hampson, K.; Mtema, Z.; Bronsvoort, M.; Handel, I.; Daborn, C.; Kivaria, F.; Knobel, D.; Breiman, R.; Njenga, K.; de Balogh, K.; Meslin, F. Surveillance and Monitoring of Zoonoses. BBSRC, Swindon, UK (2014) 157 pp.

Surveillance and Monitoring of Zoonoses

Published 1 January 2014