Blue-Med: PRIMA PROJECT

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The world’s climate appears now to be changing at an unprecedented rate. Although, it is a complex phenomenon, it is established that it influences the emergence of diseases particularly vector-borne diseases (VBDs). The impact of climate change on vector distribution and VBD incidence is of significant and immediate concern. There is considerable evidence that changes in the phenology and distribution of a wide range of arthropod species have occurred in response to climate change worldwide.

It is well established that world’s climate change influences the emergence of diseases particularly vector-borne diseases (VBDs). This project deals with Bluetongue (BT) which has been one of the most feared VBDs affecting the Mediterranean region. BT virus (BTV) is characterized by having multiple serotypes with scarce to null cross-reactivity between them causing obvious consequences in terms of prophylactic countermeasures. The majority of the recent BTV epidemics occurring in the Mediterranean region have been shown to be strictly related. Considering the high costs of recent European BTV incursions which ranged from 85 million to 1.4 billion/year, a coordinated surveillance program and common research projects within Mediterranean countries are of fundamental importance. The BlueMed consortium, which encloses important Institutions from Italy, France, Tunisia and Egypt, through a multidisciplinary approach, intends to develop an integrated operating model to prevent, tackle and control BTV epidemics in the Mediterranean region. The capacity to define, detect and respond to the emergence of new BTV strains or re-emergence of old strains will be achieved through an integrative surveillance program where entomological, virological and serological data will be integrated with relevant climatic and environmental variables. New applications with a web interface and technologies will be created and used to develop models and integrate this multiple source surveillance data. We will provide an up-to date molecular epidemiological map of BTV strains circulating in the Mediterranean region and we will verify the capability of portable next generation sequencing platforms to identify BTV, directly in the field. This project will also characterize antigenically the isolated strains by antigenic cartography providing crucial information upon the best strain to be used for vaccine production

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