PHC-07-2014 - Improving the control of infectious epidemics and foodborne outbreaks through rapid identification of pathogens
Specific challenge: Human and animal health worldwide is increasingly threatened by potential epidemics caused by existing, new and emerging infectious diseases (including from antimicrobial resistant pathogens), placing a burden on health and veterinary systems, reducing consumer confidence in food, and negatively affecting trade, food chain sustainability and food security.
The increasing incidence and more rapid spread of such diseases are facilitated by modern demographic, environmental, technological, economic and societal conditions. Many of these infections are zoonoses, necessitating an integrated, cross-border, ‘one health’ approach to research and public health measures in the human and veterinary field, including the food chain.
Scope: Sequence based data of pathogens should be generated, stored and analysed in combination with clinical, microbiological, epidemiological, additional gene- and transcriptome-based analyses and other data (e.g.: differing responses in women and men) for risk assessment (RA) in an appropriate information system for all sectors (public health, food, animal health).
Proposals should improve pathogen monitoring by rapid identification, comparison, and geographical mapping, including bio-tracing approaches. Proposals should include predictive models on RA, to identify ‘high-risk’ areas and disease-emergence patterns. Proposals should ensure links and consistency with existing networks and databases (TESSY, RASFF, EWRS, EFSA/ECDC molecular testing database) and data protection requirements. Access to the system should be granted to relevant animal, food safety and human health service stakeholders.
Harmonised standards for sampling, sequencing, sex-disaggregated representative (meta-) data collection, management and sharing should be developed. Likewise, better management tools for authorities, businesses and citizens and risk communication tools for authorities should be developed. The cost effectiveness of the tools and methods should be assessed. Better understanding of outbreaks in regions with little or no surveillance systems, mass migration settings or post-disaster settings may require special attention for emerging and re-emerging pathogens. Proposals should cooperate with existing EU projects and international activities and those under development.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 15 and 20 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Expected impact: This should provide:
- Better containment and mitigation of epidemics by competent authorities on the basis of a shared information system and global standards for rapid pathogen identification.
- Consequent improved resource efficiency and reduction of economic impact of outbreaks (related to health care costs, market losses); facilitation of international trade, increasing competitiveness of European food and agricultural sector; reinforcement of food chain sustainability and enhancement of food security, reduced carbon footprint.
- In line with the Union’s strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, proposals should contribute to implementing the ‘Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness’ and its objectives.
Type of action: Research and innovation actions
 TESSY = The European surveillance system
RASFF = Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed
EWRS = Early Warning and Response System
EFSA = European Food Safety Authority
ECDC = European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control