Summary (continued)
While NGS represents an unbiased approach to viral sequence detection, it is constrained by lower sensitivity than conventional PCR, requires substantial bioinformatics capabilities, and is cost prohibitive and therefore not widely available in the regions of the world that are most vulnerable to zoonotic disease emergence. In contrast, consensus PCR uses standard and widely available technologies, has greater sensitivity than NGS, and has also been used to identify novel viruses in wildlife, livestock and humans, though it is limited to detecting target genetic sequences conserved across known groups of viruses. The use of cPCR, in combination, if possible, with NGS and serology, can offer a powerful approach to rapidly identifying aetiologic agents in an outbreak and characterising the virome of key wildlife known to carry zoonotic viruses. Here, the authors review pathogen discovery techniques currently being used in human and animal surveillance programmes and the challenges of using viral discovery to identify novel zoonotic pathogens.