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Diseases Addressed

Taking into consideration, that HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, antimicrobial drug resistance and neglected bacterial, protozoal and helminthic diseases that are endemic in developing countries are covered in other areas of the FP7 infectious disease programme, the current working definition is that "Emerging Epidemics" will address emerging viral diseases that of actual or potential relevance to Europe.

The dynamic nature of this area, which to a large extent aims to prepare for the "unknown", makes it impossible to draw up a definitive list of diseases that are addressed under this heading. On the other hand, the potentially unlimited number of single diseases that could qualify for inclusion in this area, will - in view of limited budgets to support projects in this field - make it necessary for call topics to usually address groups of diseases, such as for example "viral haemorrhagic fevers", or "vector-borne diseases in Europe". This will also be an opportunity to integrate research efforts on similar pathogens and to derive synergies from this approach. Finally, specific aspects of preparedness might be addressed in a disease cross-cutting way, such as development of new screening techniques for blood products or the search for drug targets in RNA viruses.

Influenza takes a special position because of the potential magnitude and likelihood of a new pandemic. It currently represents by far the largest single disease addressed in the project portfolio and we will continue to consider specific research needs in this area.

Human variant Creutzfeld Jacob Disease (vCJD) as a consequence of the transmission to humans of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, "mad cow disease") is an emerging epidemic (caused by a prion and not a virus!) of the past, that was at the time addressed through a number of EU successful EU research projects.

Dengue (haemorrhagic) fever currently occurs in Europe only as an imported disease from disease-endemic areas in Asia, Africa and South and Middle America. However, the spread of one of the arthropod vectors of Dengue, Aedes albopictus, which now has now established its presence in Southern Europe, makes it also potentially relevant for Europe. Several Dengue research projects have been funded in FP7.

Other vector borne-diseases that are emerging in Europe include Chikungunya with the first recorded outbreak in 2007 in Italy, Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever which is present - and increasing in incidence in some countries in South-Eastern Europe and West Nile fever, a zoonosis that is spreading rapidly in animals in different parts of Europe. However, as mentioned above, these diseases will most frequently be addressed in call topics geared not at a single disease entity but rather at groups of diseases.