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Diagnostics and Surveillance

Pathogenesis and Improved Diagnosis and Control of Avian Influenza Infections

EC contribution
: € 1 839 294
: 48 months
Starting date
: 01/10/2002
: Shared Cost Action
: Avian influenza, poultry, highly pathogenic, pathogenicity
Project Number
: QLK2-CT-2002-01454


In recent years there has been a global increase in the number of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Two devastating outbreaks have occurred in Europe - in Italy and the Netherlands - both resulting in major economic losses. In Asia an ongoing epizootic is causing major concern due to the number of human infections associated with a particular strain of H5N1 AI virus, sparking fears and considerable planning for a potential influenza pandemic. Millions of birds have been culled to control these outbreaks.

Much attention has focused on determining the best control strategies for dealing with outbreaks and new introductions of HPAI viruses in poultry. Successful control strategies depend upon a number of factors including the use of rapid and sensitive laboratory tests appropriately applied; knowledge about the infecting virus, e.g. the host species affected; rates and mechanisms of transmission between animals of the same or different species; and determinants for pathogenicity and the use of vaccination.

We have addressed some of these issues in the AVIFLU project: Rapid and sensitive laboratory tests for avian influenza (AI) for use in surveillance and controls programmes were developed and validated. A transmission model was used to study the efficacy of vaccination in poultry and ducks, AI marker vaccines were developed and evaluated, and reverse genetics was used to study the effect of molecular pathogenicity markers in vitro and in vivo.

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