The multiple reports in this issue of the Journal from the Agenda for Action conference, coupled with the analysis by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and the Auditor General (UK) on bioterror preparedness and homeland security, highlight the immediate need for rapid disease detection and advanced diagnostic capabilities to protect the public health, animal agriculture, and the numerous associated economies in the United States. In response to the potentially devastating consequences that could arise, there is an acute need for rapid detection of a variety of the lethal foreign animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza, classical swine fever, rinderpest, exotic Newcastle disease virus (END), and domestic, vesicular look-alike diseases that include bluetongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, vesicular stomatitis, bovine herpes IBR, contagious ecthyma, bovine herpes mammilitis virus, vesicular exanthema, malignant catarrhal fever, and papular stomatitis. Some striking advances are occurring in the creation of rapid technology, including microfluidics, robotics, miniaturization, and biostabilization that are quickly being applied to the developmentof rapid microbial detection assays. These are now providing important weapons to combat this agricultural vulnerability.
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