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Food Quality and Safety in Europe

Paratuberculosis : providing tools to address this multifacetted problem

Paratuberculosis : providing tools to address this multifacetted problem image

Paratuberculosis, a chronic wasting disease in ruminants, is causing significant production losses to both dairy and meat producers, due to a decreasing milk yield, loss of body weight and early replacements. The absence of adequate diagnostic tools for early detection of subclinically infected livestock severely interferes with animal welfare, since affected animals are sent to slaughter only when they are in an advanced stage of disease. In addition, animals with subclinical disease will suffer additionally from an increased susceptiblity to secondary infections. Therefore, the objectives of this project aimed at the development of better tools for the control of paratuberculosis will directly contribute to the welfare of domestic livestock. The presence of live Mptb in retail milk in combination with its possible association with Crohn's disease in humans, has resulted in consumer concerns for quality and safety of milk and dairy products. This potential zoonotic role, the human exposure to Mptb via milk and the fact that this relationship cannot be proved or disproved, is reason for great concern. This latent foodsafety issue, combined with the economic and welfare impact the disease has on animal husbandry in the EU strengthen the importance of an effective paratuberculosis control. This project seeks to address the serious shortfalls in the current methodology for (early) diagnosis of paratuberculosis, in livestock as well as in humans, for the detection of Mptb in food, for the risk-assessment of human exposure via the foodchain to Mptb and to further investigate the possible role of Mptb in the aetiology of Crohn's disease.

Global participation in search of Investigative tools

Paratuberculosis (also called Johne's Disease in Anglo- Saxon countries) in ruminants is not a problem unique to Europe. Countries worldwide are facing the same problem and are looking for solutions. As a result ParaTBtools will include research institutions from 28 countries around the world. While institutions from across Europe will be part of the project, research institutions from Non-EU countries will also play a crucial part in the project. Large cattle and dairy producing countries such as Argentina, Canada, USA and New Zealand will be represented in the research. In addition, the consortium will seek to build a strong collaboration with other consortia working in this area, e.g. the USDA funded Johne's Disease Intergrated Programme (JDIP) using the synergy between the projects to strenghten the efforts made worlwide.

The group will be able to pool their expertise and exploit different approaches and hopefully develop an innovative diagnosis programme. Therefore, a highly significant achievement for the project will be the establishment of a multidisciplinary consortium within the EU to study the important and multifaceted problem of paratuberculosis, and the implications for food safety and animal welfare. It is expected that the wide range of disciplines within this consortium will provide a much needed platform of expertise within and beyond the lifetime of this project.

In summary, ParaTBTools will directly address EU policy on Food Quality and Safety by developing tools for an effective control of paratuberculosis of domestic livestock in the EU and thus reducing the load of M. paratuberculosis entering the foodchain. In addition, the improved diagnostic tools will allow for an earlier detection of infected animals, thus contributing to improved animal welfare in infected herds.
In addition, ParaTBtools will generate tools and information, allowing for control measures to assist owners of infected farms, in particular those with small ruminants, suffering heavily under paratuberculosis infection and often struggling for survival.

List of Partners

  • Central Institute for Animal Disease Control (The Netherlands)
  • Queen's University Belfast (UK)
  • Scottish Agricultural College (UK)
  • National Veterinary Institute (Norway)
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain)
  • Universidad de León (Spain)
  • Instituto Vasco de Investigacion y Desarrollo Agrario (Spain)
  • Veterinary Research Institute (Czech Republic)
  • Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research (Denmark)
  • INRA (France)
  • Dairy Products Research Centre, (Ireland)
  • St. Georges Hospital Medical School (UK)
  • Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments (France)
  • The Royal Veterinary College (UK)
  • Institute for Hygiene and Food Safety, (Germany)
  • The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (Denmark)
  • Ministry of the Flemish Community (Belgium)
  • Statens Serum Institut (Denmark)
  • VU University medical center (The Netherlands)
  • Dept. Health & Safety (The Netherlands)
  • Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (Belgium)
  • ADIAGENE SA (France)
  • ID-VET Sarl (France)
  • Moredun Research Institute Pentlands Science Park (UK)
  • University of Otago, (New Zealand)
  • Montreal General Hospital (Canada)
  • Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (Argentina)
  • Michigan State University (USA)
Full title:
Development of improved tools for detection of paratuberculosis in livestock, M.paratuberculosis in food and for the assessment of the risk of human exposure
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Douwe Bakker, Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek,
EC Scientific Officer:
Isabel Minguez-Tudela,
EU contribution:
€ 3.9M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top