EPIZONE European Research Group (ERG) plays a central role in prevention and control of animal diseases and will contribute to limiting both the risks and damage caused by those diseases in the EU and beyond.
International cooperation needed
During recent years the risk of introduction and spread of new infectious agents in the EU has increased due to global travel and trade. In addition global warming is likely to increase the risk of spreading of arthropod borne (tick and midge) diseases. International cooperation will be needed to develop innovative and rapid control strategies to combat animal diseases such as bluetongue, swine fever or foot and mouth disease, for which borders pose no obstacles.
In the EU and beyond the EPIZONE network now plays a key role in research on prevention, detection, surveillance and risk analysis of infectious animal diseases in order to control these (transboundary) diseases and protect animal health.
In EPIZONE over 300 scientists worldwide strive for the common EPIZONE goal:
to improve, standardise, and develop (new):
• diagnostic methods
• vaccines, intervention strategies
• surveillance, epidemiology studies
• risk analyses
for better prevention and control of high-impact animal diseases like foot and mouth disease, avian influenza, classical swine fever and arthropod borne (tick and midge) diseases such as bluetongue, African swine fever, African horse sickness, Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever and West Nile fever.
EPIZONE, highly qualified scientists together
EPIZONE brings scientists together and thereby improves understanding of different regions concerning animal related food production in the various member states. As a consequence, scientific opinions and recommendations will be internationally based, agreed, and accepted. EPIZONE intends to function as a platform and provide a think-tank of highly qualified scientists who develop new strategies and tools to face new challenges in the future.
Benefits of the network
To combat animal diseases, speed at all levels and in all
aspects is crucial. One of these is communication in order to
support others in combating animal diseases by sharing knowledge
After the introduction of bluetongue (2006) in Europe, there was an immediate exchange of protocols, materials and knowledge, which would have taken much more time in the absence of the established network of EPIZONE. The network quickly responded to requests from international organisations, FAO (within EPIZONE), WHO, and OIE, by providing access to experts and exchange experiences, and making standardised detection methods available to the affected countries.
When the outbreak of Peste des Petits Ruminants in Morocco became a threat for Europe (2008), EPIZONE organised a ring trial among EPIZONE partner institutes, disseminated reference materials and distributed a test kit in order to have institutes prepared. In 2011 again at the start of the outbreak of Schmallenberg virus scientists of EPIZONE easily found and relied on each other to exchange and share knowledge.
EPIZONE experts aim to early identify the infectious diseases with the highest risk of introduction using the solid research network. Knowledge of these risks will also increase our chances to avoid introductions of such diseases. Potential routes of introduction can be shown by means of geo-information systems.
EPIZONE ERG will, after 5 years EPIZONE NoE with EU funding, continue to develop new strategies and tools to face challenges in the future and will remain a solid network in the coming years. The Central Veterinary Institute, in the Netherlands by ProfessorWim van der Poel will continue as the coordinator of EPIZONE.