Nature India is proud to be associated with the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad in bringing out the abstracts of the high profile International Conference on Host Pathogen Interactions (ICHPI — July 12-15, 2014).
Director of NIAB Pallu Redanna says, “The conference hopes to provide a platform to scientists from across the globe working in academic laboratories and industry on infectious diseases to come together, interact and share their experiences with an aim to identify the problems and come up with strategies for more effective control of infectious diseases.” The technical sessions will focus on a number of disciplines in molecular biology, microbiology, immunology, genetics and genomics, related to host-pathogen interactions.
The scientists will deliberate on host-pathogen interactions; infection, inflammation and immunity as well as translational research (vaccines and diagnostics). There would be some brainstorming on issues that affect the Indian scenario directly, such as, integration of health of humans and animals with the environment, antimicrobial resistance and control of foot-and-mouth Disease (FMD) in India.
Nature India will bring to you coverage of some key scientific sessions of the conference.
Here’s an editorial I wrote for the abstracts book on Why India needs a polio-style control programme for the foot-and-mouth scourge:
Khur Paka-Munh Paka: I heard those words for the first time as a child on a trip to Rajasthan. They stayed with me for a long time, primarily because their rhythmic recall was funny.
Turns out they were anything but funny – Khur Paka-Munh Paka is the local name for the deadly Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) that kills or lames millions of India’s cattle every year with very high fever and nasty blisters inside the mouth and on the feet. With three prevalent serotypes, the Foot-and-Mouth-Disease Virus (FMDV) has been hitting India’s agricultural economy hard – resulting in direct annual losses of an estimated Rs 20,000 crore (around 4.45 billion USD).
The need to protect livestock – more than 527 million susceptible ones along with wild ungulates – has seen India float ambitious FMD control programmes covering almost 85 million animals through 300 million trivalent vaccine doses every year. The idea is to cover 316 million animals during the 12th five year plan period that ends in 2017. The country has spent over Rs 400 crores (around 83 million USD) to keep livestock free from the virus and intends spending Rs 500 crore in the 12th plan period alone. There’s a clear policy now to control the disease by 2020 and to establish one or more clearly defined zones that have achieve freedom from the virus through vaccination.
Long years of intervention by the government, adequate funds and vaccine production facilities have, however, not been able to contain this trans-boundary viral disease, endemic in the Indian subcontinent. Outbreaks of the disease are reported every now and then. Obviously, we are doing some things wrong. What exactly are these loose ends and how can we tie them? These are vital questions that will be addressed at a close-door brainstorming session at the International Conference on Host-Pathogen Interactions at the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad.
Some major challenges that the research community and public health experts identify are lack of uniformity in implementation and poor vaccination coverage during mass vaccination. Also, current vaccines fail to induce long term immunity to the animals and persistent infection has been reported in vaccinated animals and wildlife. The animals move unrestricted within the country and there’s no organised disease reporting system.
Alongside hundreds of illuminating presentations on host-pathogen interactions, the FMD brainstorming session will focus on identifying and prioritising research areas, finding collaborative partners and discussing practical difficulties and possible solutions. The fact that FMD gains primacy in discussions at the International Conference on Host-Pathogen interactions attaches a sense of urgency to the need for its absolute control. The recommendations of the session should provide key pointers for our policy makers to achieve total control of the disease in the subcontinent.
1. Annual Report 2012-13, Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying and Fisheries, Govt. of India