How can exotic animal diseases enter Europe and spread?

April 29, 2020

Modelling of how diseases enter and spread in a region can play an important role to predict dynamics of transboundary diseases. Outputs from modelling can contribute to better preparedness of authorities and rapid response to exotic diseases.

The development of a spatial model to assess the risk of exotic disease incursion and spread through Europe was the primary aim of the SPARE (Development of SPatial risk assessment framework for Assessing exotic disease incuRsion and spread through Europe) project that started in 2015 and ended in 2019.

The project was led by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in the UK. SAFOSO AG, the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Piemonte, Liguria e Valle d'Aosta (IZS) and the University of Zaragoza completed the consortium.

The consortium developed a model framework which makes use of global datasets to predict the probability of entry of exotic animal pathogens to European Union (EU) member states (MSs) via some of the most likely routes of introduction: legal trade of livestock and meat products, illegal trade of red meat, wild animal dispersion, windborne vector dispersion and human introduction of pets. The model was designed to be applicable for a wide range of pathogens, many of which have limited data. The model framework provides rapid access to and use of these available metadata.

The results of the project have recently been published in a special issue of Microbial Risk Analysis on the SPARE project. SAFOSO team members and former team members are co-authors on 7 of the 8 scientific publications in the volume. Besides the papers published in this special issue, additional papers have been published with results from the project.

In the papers, the application of the model was demonstrated through four case study pathogens with different transmission routes: African swine fever, Classical swine fever, Bluetongue and classical rabies.

SPatial Assessments of Risk for Europe - Evaluating the incursion and spread of exotic animal disease through Europe, Microbial Risk Analysis Volume 13, December 2019 Access volume

See also: SPARE project website

Image source: A spatial risk assessment model framework for incursion of exotic animal disease into the European Union Member States. From R.R.L. Simons, et al. Microbial Risk Analysis 13 (2019) 100075

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