Metagenomics-enabled microbial surveillance
Lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic include increased awareness of the potential for zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases that can adversely affect human health. Although emergent viruses are currently in the spotlight, we must not forget the ongoing toll of morbidity and mortality owing to antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens and to vector-borne, foodborne and waterborne diseases. Population growth, planetary change, international travel and medical tourism all contribute to the increasing frequency of infectious disease outbreaks. Surveillance is therefore of crucial importance, but the diversity of microbial pathogens, coupled with resource-intensive methods, compromises our ability to scale-up such efforts. Innovative technologies that are both easy to use and able to simultaneously identify diverse microorganisms (viral, bacterial or fungal) with precision are necessary to enable informed public health decisions. Metagenomics-enabled surveillance methods offer the opportunity to improve detection of both known and yet-to-emerge pathogens.
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