Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases
More than 70 percent of emerging infectious diseases and 80 percent of bioterror agents are zoonotic agents. Zoonotic diseases are those that start in animals and then manifest in humans.
Currently there is major concern regarding Australia’s ability to respond nationally to unexpected disasters such as the outbreak of infectious disease. The Australia 2020 Summit Report highlighted this, indicating that “unpredictable challenges, such as emerging infectious diseases, will occur and Australia needs to consider how it will prepare for the unknown.”
The current deficiency of research into the human side of zoonotic disease could be attributed to a lack of appropriate facilities and expertise in the area.
Geelong is the home of CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), a world class facility and a national centre of excellence in animal disease diagnosis, research and policy advice. The AAHL played an instrumental role in the eradication of equine influenza following its outbreak in August 2007. However, the activities at AAHL are focused on the animal perspective of zoonotic disease. There is a need for significant effort into the human side of zoonotic diseases as evidenced by the Swine Flu pandemic.
To establish a Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases to provide research, diagnosis and risk management advice in the increasingly important area of zoonotic diseases. The Centre will also provide research and public health services, both locally and nationally.
Geelong is the most effective and economical location to establish this national centre, due to its vicinity to the unique facilities that the AAHL provides.
By utilising the existing research and capability platforms available at AAHL and connecting this with Deakin University and its medical school, Barwon Health, St John of God Pathology and Geelong infectious disease services, a ‘Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases’, can be established to provide research, diagnosis and risk management advice on diseases derived from animals, such as Avian and Swine Flu.
Zoonotic diseases also have a large rural component and can impact on rural populations, industry and economy. Therefore, a regional location for a centre dedicated to working with zoonotic diseases is ideal. The centre will provide research and public health services to the local G21 region and rural communities Australia wide.
There would also be great opportunities for collaborations with the Centre for Disease Control in the USA and other international organisations, such as the World Health Organisation, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development and Food and Agriculture Organization.
Benefits for Victoria and the G21 Region
A Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases in the G21 region will:
- attract investment into new and emerging fields of research and development,
- enhance and strengthen educational links across multi-discipline sectors,
- provide opportunities for high-end employment,
- create potential for ‘supply chain’ industry and business development localised to Geelong,
- elevate the profile of the G21 region - the centre will be a nationally cooperative entity that works with agencies and groups with related expertise throughout Australia and internationally.
What is Required
Federal Government commitment of:
- $3 million to establish the centre