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research-project
Research project

Preparing for vector-borne virus outbreaks in a changing world: a One Health Approach

Status: Ongoing

We aim to understand if and how changes in climate, farming, water management and travel lead to mosquito-borne disease outbreaks, to be better prepared.

What we do

About our project

Infectious disease outbreaks

are increasingly common due to multiple, interacting global changes and developments in the human, animal or environment domains (Figure 1). These changes can trigger processes that disturb the fragile balance in the complex human-animal-environment ecosystem, up to the point where the conditions are created for (new) infectious disease outbreaks, in animals and/or humans. In these situations, the state of the system has reached a pathogen-specific vulnerability threshold (which we refer to as ‘tipping point’), making the system receptive to outbreaks of that pathogen if it is introduced. The Netherlands, with its dense population of humans and food animals, international transport and travel hubs (Schiphol, Rotterdam), and unique water-dominated landscape is particularly vulnerable to the occurrence of such tipping points and hence, outbreaks of (newly emerging) infectious disease. 

In this project

we will consider four change scenarios that could lead to the occurrence of such tipping points and disease emergence: (I) changes in climate, (II) in water management, (III) in farming practices, and (IV) in importation risk. Despite this expected vulnerability, emerging disease outbreaks in the Netherlands are still relatively rare. We currently study these outbreaks – when they occur – reactively, individually and within relatively isolated silos (e.g., human vs animal vs ecological health, academic research vs public health research, public vs private sector).

Approach 

This ad-hoc, reactive and fragmented approach is ineffective and inefficient. Instead, the partners collaborating in this proposed project will adopt a pro-active, integrated, multisectoral, One-Health approach in studying emerging infectious disease outbreaks. We will develop and implement a forward-looking integrated research agenda, measuring and modelling how projected demographic, climatological, ecological, and planological changes will impact the risk of emergence of infectious diseases in the Netherlands, and translate this understanding into effective, integrated outbreak preparedness and response actions.

Our research focus

Focus

We will focus our research agenda on priority VBD based on the EMZOO list (developed by multiple stakeholders under leadership of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment with updates based on more recent literature. These VBD are caused by viruses transmitted by common resident mosquitoes (Culex pipiens), or by the invasive mosquito Aedes albopictus, which is regularly introduced and is likely to become established in the Netherlands due to climate change. Recent outbreaks of VBD in livestock and wildlife, and repeated incursions of Aedes albopictus mosquitoes in Northern Europe highlight the importance of a preparedness research agenda for VBD for the Netherlands (including overseas territories).

Ambition

Our ambition is to prepare for VBD outbreaks in a rapidly changing environment. We will do this by: 

  • providing pathogen specific and generic early warning indicators that measure whether our human-livestock-wildlife-ecosystem is (becoming) vulnerable for VBD outbreaks, 
  • developing novel catch all tools for outbreak detection and risk assessment, 
  • translating the knowledge into interventions based on in depth knowledge of the entire ecosystem and interactions in which such outbreaks may occur.
 

 

Funds & Grants

NWA

NWA. 1160.18.210

Collaborations

Internal Collaboration

Viroscience

External collaborations

1) Deltares 
2) National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
3) Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (Koninklihk Nederlands Meteoroligish Institute – Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat - KNMI)
4) Red Cross Blood bank Foundation, Curacao
5) Sanquin, Dept. Blood borne infections
6) Technasium Foundation 
7) NVWA-Centrum Monitoring Vectoren
8) Erasmus Medisch Centrum Rotterdam (coordinator)
9) Universiteit Utrecht
10) Academisch Medisch Centrum Utrecht
11) Wageningen University
12) Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden
13) Universiteit Leiden
14) Radboud university medical center
15) Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
16) Stichting Avans
17) Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas M.P. (CSIC), by way of Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes (CEAB) also reffered as “CEAB-CSIC”
18) SOVON Dutch Centre for Field Ecology
19) Municipal Health Service Rotterdam 

Our team

Project lead: 
Prof. M. (Marion) Koopmans
Head of the Erasmus MC, department of viroscience

Project manager: 
Maarten Hoek
Program manager, Erasmus MC, department of viroscience

E-mail: Onehealth.pact@erasmusmc.nl

More info: www.onehealthpact.org