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Nat Rev Genet. 2018 Jan;19(1):9-20. doi: 10.1038/nrg.2017.88. Epub 2017 Nov 13.

Towards a genomics-informed, real-time, global pathogen surveillance system.

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British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4R4, Canada.
School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z3, Canada.
Institute of Microbiology and Infection, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.


The recent Ebola and Zika epidemics demonstrate the need for the continuous surveillance, rapid diagnosis and real-time tracking of emerging infectious diseases. Fast, affordable sequencing of pathogen genomes - now a staple of the public health microbiology laboratory in well-resourced settings - can affect each of these areas. Coupling genomic diagnostics and epidemiology to innovative digital disease detection platforms raises the possibility of an open, global, digital pathogen surveillance system. When informed by a One Health approach, in which human, animal and environmental health are considered together, such a genomics-based system has profound potential to improve public health in settings lacking robust laboratory capacity.

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