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Kenya livestock

Emerging Viral Vector-Borne Diseases (Vmerge)

 

The Vmerge research project (2013-2016) will lead to the identification of emerging risks of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) for Europe and the Mediterranean Basin and the implementation of improved surveillance strategies in this region as well as in the Sahelian region of Africa through a reinforced North-South partnership. The idea is to establish a continuum between field and experimental research and surveillance of vectors and VBDs. Vmerge is funded under the European Commissions’ Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).


Over the past decades, several VBDs emerged or spread into previously unaffected geographic areas, raising alarm and concern. Examples include the emergence of bluetongue (BT) and Schmallenberg in northern Europe and of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in the Arabian Peninsula. VBDs have a negative socio-economic impact on local livelihoods, trade and livestock production. In the case of a zoonosis like RVF, they also have a negative impact on public health. The ecology of competent vectors and the potential for virus introduction and spread are closely interlinked with environmental, climatic and socio-economic factors. Improved understanding of these factors will allow the development of more cost-effective, innovative and science-based surveillance tools and strategies. This, in turn, will improve the overall preparedness for these emerging hazards. Vmerge is addressing these issues.

 

REMESA, FAO and Vmerge

FAO stresses the need for enhanced collaboration between research institutes and veterinary services. Because of its geographical focus, Vmerge will be supported by the Mediterranean Animal Health Network (REMESA), which coordinates veterinary services in northern Africa and southern Europe. The success of the project will be highly dependent on ensuring the active and early involvement of veterinary services through REMESA focal points. As host to the REMESA Secretariat, FAO will facilitate close coordination between Vmerge and REMESA through timely exchange of information, back-to-back Vmerge-REMESA meetings and joint planning of activities. These efforts will be crucial for the implementation of field activities and the adoption of new knowledge, strategies and tools by veterinary services.