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Epizootic outbreaks cause panic among citizens and have lasting negative effects on the economy of the food industry. Diseases such as foot-and-mouth, avian influenza and classical swine fever spread very fast in high densities of susceptible animals and can only be fought with complete food chain approaches. EPIZONE is an ambitious project aimed at improving research on preparedness, prevention, detection and control of epizootic diseases by collaboration, in order to reduce the economic and social impact of eventual future outbreaks.


EPIZONE uses currently available skills and knowledge to develop and improve new tools, to control rapidly (re-)emerging epizootic diseases. A worldwide network of institutes contribute to available expertise through collaboration in the fields of diagnostics, intervention strategies, surveillance and epidemiology, and risk assessment.

The main difficulty for current disease prevention and control is that research is fragmented between a range of research entities. This fragmentation phenomenon is due to a lack of collaboration between institutions and to the lack of appropriate funding. EPIZONE aims to diminish the unnecessary duplication of resources and capacities, and encourage both the rapid expansion of skills and the spreading of excellence between partners, to open up new opportunities for international research. To this end, the project uses electronic communication systems to improve the transfer of information, for example.

The project is also developing and implementing Strategic Integration Activities for the establishment of international priorities in scientific activities, strategic review and planning in themed areas. EPIZONE's approach follows the 'fork-to-farm' model, which takes into consideration all the food production and processing stages.


The EPIZONE Consortium Agreement defines the development of a management structure based on a 'virtual institute', with clear rules, processes and procedures, including mechanisms for review and assessment, and an appropriate administrative support. Such a system defines the basis of future control and diagnostic methods, and can contribute to reducing the economic and social impacts of epizootic outbreaks.

The combination of a full chain approach and the available expertise will provide a better understanding of epizootic agents and their interaction with hosts - such as cattle, pigs, poultry and farmed fishes. It is this understanding and the establishment of diagnostic databases and improved genome sequences that can enhance public perception of European agriculture and aquaculture. Consumers are, indeed, very sensitive to epizootic outbreaks and to the control measures they entail. A better perception of outbreak dangers and answers leads to production of high-quality products and, thus, increased competitiveness of the European food sector.

EPIZONE actively contributes to the improved perception of European food sectors, by developing modern, effective and more acceptable control and diagnosis of epizootic diseases. The reduced research fragmentation targeted by the project also has a significant role to play in minimising the impact of possible future outbreaks.

List of Partners

  • Central Institute for Animal Disease Control (The Netherlands)
  • Instituut voor Dierhouderij en Diergezondheid, part of Animal Sciences Group (The Netherlands)
  • Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (Germany)
  • Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Laboratory (UK)
  • Veterinary Laboratories Agency (UK)
  • Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments (France)
  • Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research (Denmark)
  • Statens Veterinarmedicinska Anstalt (Sweden)
  • Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (France)
  • Centre of Animal Health, National Institute for Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (Spain)
  • Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (Italy)
  • Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute CAAS (China)
  • National Veterinary Research Institute (Poland)
  • FMD Institute Ankara (Turkey)
  • Centrum voor onderzoek in Diergeneeskunde en Agrochemie (Belgium)
  • Hannover Institut für Virologie (Germany)
  • Istituto Zooprofilatico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna (Italy)
  • Harbin Veterinary Research Institute CAAS (China)
  • FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Rome)
  • Digital Value Internet Professionals (The Netherlands)
Full title:
Network of excellence on epizootic disease diagnosis and control
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Piet A. van Rijn, Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek,
EC Scientific Officer:
Isabel Minguez Tudela,
EU contribution:
€ 14M
Network of Excellence

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top