Despite the extensive influence of fungi on economic well-being, as well as on human, animal, plant, and ecosystem health, the threats posed by emerging fungal pathogens are often unappreciated and poorly understood. On December 14 and 15, 2010, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Forum on Microbial Threats hosted a public workshop on this topic in order to explore the scientific and policy dimensions associated with the causes and consequences of emerging fungal diseases. Through invited presentations and discussions, the workshop explored the environmental, host (plant, animal, and human), and pathogen-related factors influencing the emergence, establishment, and spread of fungal pathogens, as well as the impacts of these diseases on human and animal health, agriculture, and biodiversity. Workshop participants also considered and discussed opportunities to improve surveillance, detection, and response strategies for identifying and mitigating the impacts of these diseases in order to better prepare for future outbreaks. Convened in response to the perceived threat posed by emerging fungal diseases to human, animal, and plant health, this was the first workshop in the Forum’s 15-year history that focused exclusively on fungal pathogens.
Organization of the Workshop Summary
This workshop summary was prepared by the rapporteurs for the Forum’s members and includes a collection of individually authored papers and commentary. Sections of the workshop summary not specifically attributed to an individual reflect the views of the rapporteurs and not those of the Forum on Microbial Threats, its sponsors, or the IOM. The contents of the unattributed sections are based on presentations and discussions at the workshop.
The summary is organized into sections as a topic-by-topic description of the presentations and discussions that took place at the workshop. Its purpose is to present lessons from relevant experience, to delineate a range of pivotal issues and their respective challenges, and to offer potential responses as discussed and described by the workshop participants. Manuscripts and reprinted articles submitted by some, but not all, of the workshop’s participants may be found, in alphabetical order, in Appendix A.
Although this workshop summary provides a description of the individual presentations, it also reflects an important aspect of the Forum’s philosophy. The workshop functions as a dialogue among representatives from different sectors and allows them to present their beliefs about which areas merit further attention. This report only summarizes the statements of workshop participants. This workshop summary report is not intended to be an exhaustive exploration of the subject matter nor does it represent the findings, conclusions, or recommendations of a consensus committee process.