Network for Early Warning of Influenza Viruses in Migratory Birds in Europe
NEW-FLUBIRD will establish a European network of virologists and ornithologists, data managers, epidemiologists and modellers, in order to provide 'early warning and risk assessment systems' in real time for the threat posed to animal and human health by avian influenza (AI) viruses from migratory birds. The network will largely build on and extend existing collaborations between AI virologists in Europe and international ornithological organisations active within and outside Europe including Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Epidemiological assessments will thus cover the major flyways of migratory birds over Europe and the areas from which birds in Europe migrate. Furthermore, it will focus on experimental infection of selected migratory bird species with HPAI virus H5N1 and possibly other relevant HPAI viruses, to determine pathogenesis and excretion profiles. In turn, the ornithological studies will construct migratory route maps and set up systematic sampling from healthy wild migratory birds thus providing insight in volume and timing of migration as well as key sites of those migratory bird species that pose the highest risk of transmitting HPAI viruses to poultry in Europe. Finally, NEW-FLUBIRD will seek integration with global early warning systems developments like GLEWS of FAO and WHO (Global Early Warning System) and GNAIS of WCS (Global 3 Network for Avian Influenza Surveillance).[+] Read More
The threat posed to animal and human health by AI viruses from migratory birds.
The NEW-FLUBIRD project, initially based on the work carried out in the framework of the FP5 NOVAFLU project and also on the FP6 EDEN and the French MigrAv project networks, will be extended with additional sampling sites positioned within Europe and along migratory routes to Europe in areas that represent a relatively high risk to Europe since they harbour migratory birds that migrate to Europe, like in Russia, the Middle East and Africa. This will be implemented by a network of institutes involved in water bird monitoring and research under the lead of Wetlands International, involving Station Biologique Tour du Valat (Camarque, France), Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (Slimbridge, UK), Oiseaux Migrateurs du Palearctique Occidental (OMPO, France), CIRAD (France) and offices of Wetlands International in Wageningen, the Netherlands (HQ), Kiev (Ukraine), Moscow (Russia) and Dakar (Senegal).
In addition, the network will interconnect with other networks covering similar activities in the Americas and Asia though collaborative activities of participants of the NEW-FLUBIRD network. The implementation of the project has a practical general target: the urgent development of 'early warning and rapid response systems' to be used by the relevant EU and other international organisations as well as policymakers in EU Member States involved in combating animal and human influenza threats posed by AI viruses from migratory birds.
The scientific objective of the project is to establish a multidisciplinary network for 'early warning and risk assessment' in real time for influenza viruses in migratory birds in Europe. The project aims to do this by gaining insight into the role of migratory birds in the possible spread of AI viruses to and among poultry and mammals in Europe with a strong emphasis on the current threat posed by the HPAI virus H5N1.
To this end the NEW-FLUBIRD network of influenza virologists, ornithologists, data managers, epidemiologists and modellers will be established. Specific attention will be paid to the selection of surveillance sites on the basis of geographical distribution, risk estimation, the volume of migrating birds of different species and behavioural aspects of birds related to possible contacts with domestic poultry. Surveillance sites will be provided with the appropriate equipment needed to expand wild bird surveillance for AI and standardised techniques related to sampling and laboratory testing for AI viruses including quantitative real-time PCR and sequence analyses, as well as reporting bird morbidity and mortality.
In addition, wider scale mortality monitoring will be implemented on the basis of existing logistics in the framework of the International Waterbird Census (IWC), coordinated by Wetlands International. In Europe alone this global scale monitoring scheme for water birds results in over 25 million water birds counted from over 10 000 sites annually. Systems will be put in place for real time reporting of mortality from this network. Observations on interaction between wild birds and poultry in and around the various poultry management systems and situations in Europe will be obtained as a contribution to the assessment of risks. Data managers, epidemiologists and modellers will use well-established and standardised tools and techniques. Standardisation of techniques will be achieved by targeted training courses for all participants involved in the respective areas, and by providing the laboratories and sites with standardised materials and equipment.
In addition, on the basis of the currently available and emerging data from the project, experimental infections with a recent HPAI H5N1 virus isolate (e.g. turkey isolate from Turkey) will be carried out in a high security laboratory setting (BSL 3+) in at least nine wild bird species considered to pose a possible risk to domestic poultry in Europe. Clinical signs, (histo)pathology, immune histochemistry (IHC) and H5N1 virus excretion profiles will be monitored in these species.
Collectively, the data generated by the bird surveillance activities and by the experimental bird infection experiments will form the scientific basis for the main objective of this project: creation of real time early warning and risk assessment system as regards the role of migratory birds in spreading AI viruses to and among poultry and mammals in Europe.
The NEW-FLUBIRD network will establish 'early warning and risk assessment systems' in real time for the threat posed to animal and human health by AI viruses from migratory birds.
Exploitation and dissemination of the results of these systems will be communicated on real time basis to EU organisations like DG-SANCO, ECDC, WHO (regional office, Copenhagen) UNEP and European chief veterinary officers as well as international organisations like OIE (Paris) and FAO (Rome). In addition, ministries of agriculture and public health of Member States will also be directly informed about the threats and risks as they emerge. To this end, these organisations will be part of a direct AI early warning and risk assessment mailing system and the data will be accessible by all the participants and the organisations via the shielded part of the NEW-FLUBIRD website that will be created specifically for this purpose. All the data generated by the project will be published in the peer reviewed international scientific literature, after securing intellectual property rights as appropriate. In addition, the public part of the website will inform people about the outcome of those parts of NEW-FLUBIRD that, according to the project's intellectual property management rules, can be made public.
The added value of carrying out the work at the European level is illustrated by the participation of scientific groups from nine EU Member States and motivated by the specific expertise of each of the partners in the areas of virology and/or ornithology or in the areas of data management, epidemiology and modelling. In addition, the relevance of the sampling sites of migratory birds in Europe and in areas from where birds migrate to Europe has motivated the inclusion of several of the partners. Furthermore, several of the partners are involved in other projects covering the same subject in the Americas, Africa, the Caucasus and Eurasia, thus allowing the NEW-FLUBIRD network to integrate global 'early warning and risk assessment systems' as they emerge.
Early warning and risk assessment systems will be used by policy-makers, as input for decisions and control measures for AI viruses coming from migratory birds.