IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.
European Flag    Europa The European Commission Research Agriculture FAIR
index by Area Animal and plant health, animal welfare
index by Country Belgium

Molecular characterisation and epidemiology of encephalomyocarditis virus: a model for emerging diseases

Contract nr: FAIR-CT98-4146
Project nr: 4146
Project type: SC
encephalomyocarditis virus: a model for emerging diseases
Starting date: 01/02/1999
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 1,252,600 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,171,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Isabel MINGUEZ-TUDELA
Research topic: Animal health

Encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), a member of the genus Cardiovirus in the Picornaviridae family , is regarded as a virus of rodents but can on occasion cause disease in a wide variety of animals, including domesticated pigs. EMCV may either cause sudden death in piglets or reproductive failure in sows. These disease syndromes were first observed in Europe in 1986 and have increased in frequency since that time. The transmission and spread of this emerging European disease is poorly understood both in wildlife and domesticated species.

This study is investigating three areas:

1) the epidemiology of EMCV disease;
2) virus strain virulence;
3) diagnosis of EMCV infections.


1) Firstly, the epidemiology and economic implications of EMCV infection in pigs will be studied by investigating the mode and kinetics of virus spread on an infected farm. The prevalence and spread of EMCV throughout Europe will be studied by the collection and genetic analysis of viruses from both wildlife (rodents etc.) and pigs, and by surveying these populations for antibodies to EMCV. The route of EMCV transmission will be studied experimentally. Host (genetic) and environmental factors (such as stress) which may influence the outcome of an outbreak will be studied. We will determine reliable parameters of immune protection. All the above data will be used to create an epidemiologic and economic computer model for EMCV disease which may also be used for emerging diseases in general.

2) Virus strain virulence. We will investigate the basis for the variable virulence of EMCV strains in pigs by characterisation of viruses at the genome level. Initially genome areas known to be involved in the virulence of other Picornaviruses (S' UTR, poly-C tract, VP1, 3' UTR) will be studied in a number of well-characterised EMCV strains which cause either myocardial or reproductive disorders. Additionally, a molecularly-cloned infectious cDNA will be constructed to investigate virulence by the creation of chimeric viruses or by reverse genetics. The implications for the emergence of disease due to the quasispecies nature of EMCV will also be investigated and can be useful for the study of other emerging RNA-viruses.

3) Diagnosis. Molecular diagnostic assays previously developed by us under an AIR project will be updated to allow an immediate appraisal of the impact of EMCV infection on the status of animal health.

This will include further optimisation of all stages of diagnostic PCRs and the application and development of new assays e.g. antigen-capture PCR. If possible, diagnostic tests based on molecular markers of virulence will be developed. Additionally, comparative evaluation of these assays will be undertaken by all participants. It is envisaged that these studies will make an important contribution to the understanding of the epidemiology and future control of this emerging pig disease.


Centrum voor Onderzoek in Diergeneeskunde en Agrochemie
Epizootische Varkensziekten
Groeselenberg 99
B-1180 Brussels
Tel.: +32 2 375 44 55
Fax: +32 2 375 09 79


    Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki
    University Campus
    GR-54006 Thessaloniki
    Tel.: +30 31 99 99 51
    Fax: +30 31 99 99 59

  • Emiliana BROCCHI
    Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia
    A. Bianchi N. 7
    I-25124 Brescia
    Tel.: +39 030 22 90 281
    Fax: +39 030 22 56 13

  • Catherine CRUCIERE
    AFSSA - Agence Française de Securité Sanitaire des Aliments
    Avenue du Général De Gaulle 23
    F-94701 Maisons-Alfort
    Tel.: +33 1 49 77 13 00
    Fax: +33 1 43 68 97 62

  • Nicholas James KNOWLES
    Institute for Animal Health
    Ash road, Pirbright, Woking
    UK-GU24 ONF Surrey
    Tel.: +44 1483 23 24 41
    Fax: +44 1483 23 24 48

  • Mirjam NIELEN
    Wageningen Agricultural University
    Costerweg 50
    NL-6700 H8 wageningen
    Tel.: +31 317 48 40 65
    Fax: +31 317 48 27 45

  • Norbert NOWOTNY
    University of Veterinary Sciences,
    Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine
    Veterinaerplatz 1
    A-12100 Vienna
    Tel.: +43 12 50 77 23 04
    Fax: +43 12 50 77 23 90


    Department of Veterinary Services
    Athalassa 1417
    Tel.: +357 230 52 35
    Fax: +357 233 28 03
  Search Top