Objective—To identify emerging animal and zoonotic diseases and associated geographic distribution, disease agents, animal hosts, and seasonality of reporting in the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED)-mail electronic early warning system.
Sample Population—10,490 disease reports.
Procedures—Descriptive statistics were collated for all animal disease reports appearing on the ProMED-mail system from January 1, 1996, to December 31, 2004.
Results—Approximately 30% of reports concerned events in the United States; reports were next most common in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Russia, and China. Rabies, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and anthrax were reported consistently over the study period, whereas avian influenza, Ebola virus, and Hantavirus infection were reported frequently in approximately half of the study years. Reports concerning viral agents composed more than half of the postings. Humans affected by zoonotic disease accounted for a third of the subjects. Cattle were affected in 1,080 reports, and wildlife species were affected in 825 reports. For the 10,490 postings studied, there was a retraction rate of 0.01 and a correction rate of 0.02.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—ProMED-mail provided global coverage, but gaps in coverage for individual countries were detected. The value of a global electronic reporting system for monitoring emerging diseases over a 9-year period illustrated how new technologies can augment disease surveillance strategies. The number of animal and zoonotic diseases highlights the importance of animals in the study of emerging diseases.