The recent epidemics of Ebola in West Africa, MERS-CoV in the Middle East, Yellow Fever in DRC, Angola and Brazil, avian influenza in Asia and Africa and Zika virus in the Americas demonstrate that emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases pose a major and ongoing threat to public health around the world. The constant threat of infectious disease outbreaks highlight the need for rapid, coordinated and multidisciplinary field responses to mitigate the spread of disease.
The 33 institutes of the Institut Pasteur International Network, located across 26 countries and five continents, have long been at the forefront of preparing for, monitoring and responding to infectious disease outbreaks. Building on the strong technical capacities at Pasteur and its relationships with local partners from the 33 Institutes of the Institut Pasteur International Network (IPIN), the Center for Global Health has created the Outbreak Investigation Task Force to respond rapidly to and support local investigation and control of infectious disease outbreaks, coordinated by Dr Maria Van Kerkhove.
The OITF operates to support local authorities in the management of and response to an infectious disease outbreak, through investigations to better understand emergence and transmission patterns of emerging and re-emerging pathogens.
The OITF enables well characterized samples and high-quality data to be rapidly documented in the field, via epidemiological investigations, clinical description of cases, surveillance in humans or animals, and genetic sequencing. This is complemented by sophisticated statistical, mathematical, and bioinformatics methods, which can then be integrated in standardized protocols and platforms able to rapidly cope with massive influx of data during outbreaks.
The OITF enables the Institut Pasteur to further develop and coordinate responses to future outbreaks, translating results from outbreak investigations into improvements in the management and control of outbreaks, and contribute to the global data sharing for the development of new diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines.