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Epidemiology of non-EU-regulated contagious animal diseases: from integrated data collection to prioritisation


Activities will aim to harvest the knowledge inherently carried in existing data streams on contagious, non-EU-regulated, animal diseases, including diseases with multiple pathogens (disease complexes) and AMR. The proposals should address at least terrestrial livestock, while including marine and freshwater aquaculture whenever relevant, and should investigate the feasibility of addressing relevant wildlife. Data from different production systems should be included. Activities will look for ways to validate, integrate and process these data, including modelling, possibly generating additional useful information inferred from existing data and identifying new data that could be integrated in data streams. They will focus on identifying and characterising relevant data on diseases (including animals, pathogen and environment, including genomic and metagenomic data), context and consequences (e.g. performance), the various components of data streams and will assess opportunities and barriers to utilising or sharing information across countries and stakeholders throughout Europe. This should improve risk identification and determination of the burden and cost of non-regulated contagious diseases and effectiveness and efficiency of control measures. Relevant geospatial information and data on animal welfare and genetics, in so far as they can be connected to animal diseases, can be included in the planned activities.

Work shall explore the potential of precision farming and “big” data, cloud-based integrated data collection for the detection of hitherto undetected relations between symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, risk factors, control measures and spread of diseases as well as their associated burden and economic costs. They should test the feasibility and potential benefits of an integrated approach to knowledge extraction and decision support based on a specific risk scenario for a disease. Decision-makers involved at different levels in the management of diseases should be considered (e.g. producers, private stakeholders supporting diseases control plans at a collective level, public sector). Possible integration with farm management and information systems and (automated) decision support systems, should be explored. Development or refinement of existing risk-based approaches and early warning systems should be explored. The project will provide a coherent blueprint and a framework for the necessary changes to allow improved data utilisation to protect animal health and welfare, human health and the food chain in Europe. Proposals should fall under the concept of 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction of this Work Programme part]], involving representatives of producers, veterinarians and other professionals from animal production and the food chain, as appropriate, and decision-makers.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The increasing demand for animal derived food and the mounting pressure on land and oceans is expected to push further intensification and expansion of animal production in certain regions of the world. Contagious livestock diseases impede the efficiency of animal production and lead to economic costs, poor animal welfare, and in the case of certain diseases, have an impact on trade, consumer confidence and public health. While the impact of epizootic diseases and some other regulated contagious diseases is relatively well known due to the regulatory framework, the situation with non-regulated contagious diseases is poorly known, even less for diseases with multiple pathogens (disease complexes). It is up to the private sector to deal with them. There is a need to determine the prevalence of production related diseases, the burden of these diseases and to set up a framework to facilitate monitoring of the situation and enable improvements in risk assessments and prioritisation of disease control measures throughout the animal production chain, for the producers and their organisations, the private stakeholders in the livestock sector (e.g. veterinarians, animal health industry, animal breeding industry, food industry) and the public stakeholders (e.g. risk managers, funders).

Strategic utilisation of existing and development of new data streams will:

  • allow a clear view on occurrence and cost of disease and relation to welfare;
  • enable timely and evidence-based decision-making by stakeholders in public and private sectors, and potentially by producers. It will enable a more focused targeting of resources for controlling diseases;
  • provide a basis for potential rapid and early detection coupled with prediction of consequent losses,
  • facilitate educational strategies for animal disease and animal welfare management; identify gaps in human capital knowledge.