Strategies to Prevent Spillover of Zoonotic Diseases
Tetra Tech is providing technical support in the areas of agriculture and food security; risk reduction; water surveillance; wildlife and biodiversity; and environmental and natural resource management to enhance global capacity to reduce and mitigate risks related to zoonotic spillover, amplification, and spread.
Human behavior drives the evolution and epidemiology of infectious diseases, and we share pathogens with species we contact. Some shared pathogens—typically viruses—spillover from animal hosts (wildlife or livestock) to humans, causing outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics that leave indelible marks on society. When a viral spillover event occurs, human populations are put at risk. As we have seen with hemorrhagic filoviruses such as Ebola and Marburg, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) viruses like COVID-19. Zoonotic diseases with high mortality rates can devastate families, communities, and countries. Other zoonoses like Nipah virus, a bat-borne virus that causes infection in humans and other animals, and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) affect livelihoods and economies. As demands increase for food, forest products, and energy, humans push the boundaries between human, domestic animal, and wildlife ecologies and landscapes, creating high risk interfaces where zoonotic diseases can spillover between animals and humans.
The Strategies to Prevent (STOP) Spillover Project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is a five-year project led by Tufts University, which includes a consortium of global partners. Tetra Tech’s role in this consortium is to provide technical assistance and support to local partners. Tetra Tech also will support local, national, and regional institutions to design, deploy, and assess interventions that reduce spillover risk.
STOP Spillover is enhancing global understanding of the complex drivers of viral spillover by characterizing risks for zoonotic spillover and designing and evaluating interventions to reduce those risks. The project will focus specifically on preventing the spillover of emerging zoonotic diseases, including Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Nipah, SARS, and SARS-CoV-2 in up to 10 priority countries across Africa and Asia. This project builds on decades of previous investments by USAID and the U.S. government, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
Working together with local partners in high risk interfaces, Tetra Tech will strengthen local capacities in zoonotic disease spillover surveillance, risk analysis, prevention, and response. In each focus country, STOP Spillover will lead a collaborative, stakeholder-driven outcome mapping process to describe the spillover ecosystem. The objectives of the project are to strengthen country capacity to:
- Monitor, analyze, and characterize the risk of priority emerging zoonotic viruses spilling over from animals to people
- Develop, test, and implement interventions to reduce risk of priority emerging zoonotic viruses spilling over from animals to people
- Mitigate amplification and spread of priority zoonotic diseases in human populations
Tetra Tech provides technical leadership, in-country community outreach and coordination, and cross-cutting technical assistance to STOP Spillover country teams. We colead the Food, Water, Air, Climate, Livelihoods & Economics, Policy & Security Hub, which provides cutting edge, innovative technical, administrative, and logistical support to Country Teams and One Health Design, Research, and Monitoring working groups to effectively carry out their work. Through STOP Spillover resource hubs, Tetra Tech will transfer technical skills to local partners and stakeholders to sustainably reduce the risk of zoonotic viral spillover, amplification, and spread. Tetra Tech also coordinates outreach and capacity building efforts in STOP Spillover target countries to maximize synergies and efficiency.
Tetra Tech leads the Technology, Innovation, Partner Support and Communication Service Center to provide technology, innovation, partner coordination, and communication support to the entire consortium, including country teams, to ensure the smooth and successful implementation of the STOP Spillover program.
Although interventions will be demand driven and determined by country teams and local stakeholders, illustrative interventions could include support for vulnerability assessments that inform hot-spot maps, applied social science research, and climate risk and environmental surveillance data analysis and sharing. We help characterize spillover risks; develop behavior change interventions to reduce spillover risks based on environmental, ecological, gender, sociocultural, economic, and political factors; and institutionalize knowledge sharing across systems, adapting learning to local contexts and building upon local expertise.
While primary support will be to and through country teams and resource hubs, Tetra Tech’s on-the-ground partnerships, networks, and projects will ensure STOP spillover remains applied, integrated, and interdisciplinary in outreach solutions. The USAID STOP Spillover program provides a critical opportunity to bolster global understanding of the complex drivers of viral spillover and to augment national capacities in surveillance, risk analysis, and behavior change. Our consortium’s vision is for priority countries across Africa and Asia to gain critical knowledge about their spillover ecosystems, and to refine and use that knowledge effectively, efficiently, and sustainably to reduce the risk of zoonotic viral spillover and spread.
Learn more about the STOP Spillover project and the consortium.