Institut Pasteur’s Response to Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks
The Institut Pasteur International Network has a long tradition in working closely with local ministries of health on training and building capacity to detect and respond to outbreaks of known and unknown pathogens. Since 2014, Institut Pasteur has formalized its process for responding to infectious disease outbreaks with the inception of the Outbreak Investigation Task Force (OITF).
- What is the Outbreak Investigation Task Force?
The Outbreak Investigation Task Force consists of Pasteurians with experience in field investigations of infectious diseases and with expertise in epidemiology, clinical infectious diseases, virology, bacteriology, entomology, logistics, risk communication and other fields. OITF members receive advanced training in field-based teamwork, coordination with local governments and partner organizations, epidemiologic investigations, adaption of studies to field interventions, database use and management, and report writing. OITF task force members are then, upon request, able to be deployed rapidly to support an outbreak of emerging and re-emerging pathogens.
- How does the OITF operate?
The primary aim of the OITF is to support local authorities in the management of and response to an infectious disease outbreak. Upon notification of a novel or re-emerging pathogen, and at the request of local authorities, the OITF can rapidly deploy staff during the early stages of an outbreak. We will work in support of the local Instituts Pasteur, in partnership with World Health Organization’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), and/or through bi-lateral agreements with national governments. Working with local partners, our rapid-response teams investigate pathogen transmission, identify the populations most at risk for infection and severe outcomes and develop mitigation measures to control the spread of the disease.
We rapidly implement epidemiologic studies and utilize our expertise in mathematical modelling and genetic sequencing to inform policy decisions to reduce the impact of the outbreak. Data gathered at the outbreak’s onset will be used for the development of diagnostic tools and medical interventions, including vaccines
- A mechanism for advancing the One Health initiative
Human health, animal health and the state of ecosystems are inextricably linked with approximately 75% of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that have affected humans over the past three decades are known to be of zoonotic origin. In recognition of the fact that global surveillance of infectious diseases must therefore expand beyond humans to include animal and environmental aspects of pathogen emergence and re-emergence, the Institut Pasteur, through the CGH and the OITF, has become a key proponent of the ‘One Health’ initiative. The Institut Pasteur and the IPIN regularly conducts and coordinates multi-sectorial investigations of human cases of diseases from rabies to H5N1 in collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture and the Ministries of Health in affected countries, placing the Institut Pasteur and the OITF in a position to advance the ‘One Health’ initiative on the global health agenda.