Trump administration ends program to monitor animal diseases that could spread to humans (like Ebola)

Pedestrians walk past a mural showing the symptoms of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, September 26, 2014. [REUTERS/James Giahyue]

The bizarre move worries public health experts

Donald Trump's administration will end a federal program that monitors dangerous animal diseases that could spread to humans.

This news alarms public health experts, and those who are concerned that America's adversaries, namely Russia, may be actively influencing the Trump administration to commit low-key acts of biological warfare on Americans.

Never chalk up to foreign active measures campaigns what can be explained by idiocy, they say, but why not both?

“Predict, a government research program, sought to identify animal viruses that might infect humans and to head off new pandemics, Donald G. McNeil Jr. at the New York Times reports today:

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that a new animal disease that can also infect humans is discovered every four months. Ending the program, experts fear, will leave the world more vulnerable to lethal pathogens like Ebola and MERS that emerge from unexpected places, such as bat-filled trees, gorilla carcasses and camel barns.

The program, known as Predict and run by the United States Agency for International Development, was inspired by the 2005 H5N1 bird flu scare. Launched 10 years ago, the project has cost about $207 million.

The initiative has collected over 140,000 biological samples from animals and found over 1,000 new viruses, including a new strain of Ebola. Predict also trained about 5,000 people in 30 African and Asian countries, and has built or strengthened 60 medical research laboratories, mostly in poor countries.

Dennis Carroll, the former director of USAID’s emerging threats division who helped design Predict, oversaw it for a decade and retired when it was shut down. The surveillance project is closing because of “the ascension of risk-averse bureaucrats,” he said.

Read the rest at the New York Times.