Europeans work together on controlling zoonoses

The green light has been given to the European Network of Excellence for Integrated Research on the Prevention and Control of Zoonoses, MED VET NET. 300 leading scientists from 10 countries and 16 scientific institutions have joined forces in order to develop joint strategies to control diseases transmitted from animals to humans. “The work of this research network will be a cornerstone for cross-border food safety and international consumer protection”, was how the President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, highlighted the importance of MED VET NET. With its multi-disciplinary approach, the network will set standards in the battle against zoonoses.

Over the next five years the research network will receive funds from the 6th Framework Programme of the European Union amounting to EUR 14.4 million. The goal is to tackle one of the key problems in health care in a “virtual research institute”. For the first time, veterinarians, medics and scientists from other disciplines will focus their joint attention on the prevention, control and avoidance of diseases and pathogens that are either transmitted from animals to humans via food or are at home in animals and are transmitted directly from them to humans. This is not just about avoiding the pain and misery caused by zoonoses. It is also about reducing the costs incurred which, in the European Union alone, amount to more EUR 6 billon every year.

In their work the scientists follow the “farm to fork” concept in order to keep pathogens like Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria as well as other disease-producing germs away from the consumer’s plate. However, the seven focal themes of the research programme also encompass the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in animal sheds and their control as well as the appearance of new zoonotic agents like European Lyssa virus that is transmitted by bats. Scientists from BfR will be involved in all areas of research.

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