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RANA Report Summary

Project ID: 6459
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Denmark

Final Report Summary - RANA (Risk assessment of new and emerging systemic iridoviral diseases for European fish and aquatic ecosystems)

The overall objective of the RANA project was to assess the threat of systemic iridoviruses to wild and farmed freshwater fish and to amphibian wildlife in the European Union.

The project was organised in nine distinct, yet interrelated, work packages (WPs) which focussed on research and innovation as well as on project coordination and management. The specific RANA objectives were to:

1. perform experimental infection trials in a range of species
2. develop diagnostic tools for rapid detection and differentiation of strains, as well as for the description of pathology in infected animals
3. perform a risk assessment taking into account the results of experimental trials as well as the findings of a laboratory and internet survey regarding the potential presence and the entry routes of viruses into the European Union.

Experimental infection trials on a range of important European species of farmed and wild freshwater fish and wild amphibians were conducted to provide the necessary assessment data. Immunological diagnostic methods were developed to facilitate the characterisation of the pathology and pathogenesis for each susceptible species and to allow for the rapid diagnosis in the event of a future outbreak in the European Union. Molecular methods were also developed for the differentiation of ranavirus strains, thereby providing the means of differentiating the notifiable and highly virulent isolates, as determined by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), from less potent isolates.

Through the application of epidemiological principles a risk assessment model was developed to assess the potential pathways of spread and likely impact of viruses. One of the major uncertainties that were addressed was the lack of information regarding susceptible species and possible vectors. Numerous criteria were selected to define the conditions under which a ranavirus formed a hazard and a list of hazardous viruses was created, updating previous information. Moreover, the potential of aquatic pet trade to act as a path of disease introduction and spread was analysed. A relevant risk assessment was performed; nevertheless, it was noted that further research was necessary to verify its conclusions and update its data. Finally, recommendations on future actions that would be necessary to prevent incursion and spread of serious ranaviral diseases in the European Union were also provided based on the project findings.

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