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Arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) outbreaks are widespread, unexplained and unpredictable. This makes current surveillance approaches focusing on individual diseases and exotic vector populations inadequate, financially unsustainable, and unsatisfying for decision making by public health officials in early stages of emergence.

In collaboration with those responsible for implementing the Dutch zoonosis surveillance system, Eco-alert develops a science based generic sampling protocol for early detection of emergence of top 3 mosquito-borne and tick-borne viruses in ecological hotspots using the hazard analysis of critical control points methodology.

Eco-alert designs a ready-to-use multiplex surveillance test that detects exposure to multiple viruses, their vectors or both. It will be customized for joint use by clinicians, veterinarians, entomologists, virologists and other professionals forming part of the early warning infrastructure in the Netherlands. In addition, Eco-alert provides a state-of-the-art early warning system organized according to type of viral threat.

Eco-alert partners

ECO alert partner overview
Why Eco-alert?
Eco-alert aims to:
1) prevent arbovirus disease in humans and animals by developing an early warning system, and
2) generate specific knowledge of pathogens and their ecology in North-Western Europe.

The early warning system will integrate knowledge of infection cycles of the most important arboviruses (top 3 mosquito-borne and top 3 tick-borne) as included in the EMZOO report, complemented with the priority arboviruses with an emerging pattern in Europe (DENV and CHIKV) that may transmit without the need for a reservoir host (van der Giessen et al., 2010; Weaver and Reisen, 2010). Stakeholders of Eco-alert are organisations charged with disease and vector surveillance interested to transform the existing surveillance infrastructure. Eco-alert works in direct consultation with these organisations, as well as international partners.

Our key assumption is that timeliness in surveillance of arboviruses would benefit from an integrated model for disease and vector surveillance, that cuts across pathogens and domains (medical, veterinary, ecology) and targets vector, virus, animal reservoirs and humans simultaneously using harmonized methods. At present, the CMV evaluates and updates its vector monitoring strategies annually, based on the latest risk assessments of vector incursions and disease outbreaks occurring internationally.

Unique to the Eco-alert approach is that we cover most common arbovirus threats, rather than individual pathogens. Partners from the medical and veterinary field will be equipped with agreed and validated methods and protocols for patient evaluation the moment an alert is given, which will make the overall early warning system more (cost)effective.

Early warning based on confirmed virus circulation but prior to recognized human or veterinary cases would enable the timely preparation and deployment of control programs by the responsible public health partners (ministries, RIVM, nVWA, CVI, GGD), as well as communication of health risks to non-governmental organisations (DWHC, KNJV, PGO’s), practitioners and the general public. Early warning tools and forecasting methods clearly can reduce vector-borne disease impact, as shown for malaria (Thomson, et al 2006; Worrall et al 2007) and other diseases (Myers et al 2000).


Eco-alert proposes to develop a generic approach to early detection of arbovirus emergence, building from insights and methods developed through different EU funded projects (see section on expertise), and from hazard analysis in the food chain that have recently been piloted for emerging infectious diseases (Edmunds et al. 2013). A blueprint for integrated surveillance will be designed of the main mosquito-borne and tick-borne arboviruses, for wildlife, production animals, humans, and vectors, based on in-depth analysis of available data and bearing in mind existing infrastructure. In collaboration with persons and organisations charged with vector and disease surveillance and control Eco-alert will pilot novel multiplex laboratory tools to measure exposure to vectors and viruses across species. 

The Eco-alert project team has a scientific focus embedded in practical expertise in the area of vector-borne disease and exotic vector detection both nationally and internationally. The groups involved are responsible for diagnosis of disease in humans (AMC, EMC, RIVM) and animals (GD, WU, Artemis), involved in surveillance (RIVM, GD, CMV), and emerging disease preparedness and response (GD, RIVM, EMC). In addition, the group members are involved in key European networks focussing on emerging diseases and zoonoses, notably PREPARE, ENIVD, ANTIGONE and ASKLEPIOS.

Project team
Prof Marion Koopmans
Prof Marion Koopmans (EMC) has a research background in emerging disease preparedness and foodborne infections, focusing on epidemiological and laboratory approaches to improve disease detection, and control. She is co-author of the 2010 RIVM report Emerging zoonoses: early warning and surveillance in the Netherlands. She is involved in several EU funded projects (ANTIGONE, PREPARE, ENIVD) targeting emerging diseases.

Dr. Chantal Reusken
Dr. Chantal Reusken (EMC) has worked for the past 10 years in the field of emerging zoonoses with a focus on arthropod-borne and rodent-borne viruses. She has worked as project leader vector-borne and zoonotic viral diseases and as department head Rare and Emerging viral infections and Response at the Netherlands Centre for Infectious Disease control at RIVM. She has advised national policymakers topics concerning the ecology and epidemiology of vector-borne diseases, ao risk of import of TBEV; surveillance for WNV in the Netherlands; the public health risk of the import of Ae. albopictus and Ae. atropalpus in the Netherlands; the risk for import of CCHFV through trade in live-stock, etc. She is an invited expert for ECDC consultations on the specific case definition/classification for CHIKV and DENV surveillance in the EU; on risk assessment and outbreak mapping tools for WNV infection in Europe; on the zoonotic risks for Schmallenberg virus and on the assessment of the outbreak of CHIKV in the Caribbean. She has a wide international scientific network in the field including participation in the ENIVD network, ANTIGONE and PREPARE and association with VBORNET and EDENex.

Dr. Fred de Boer
Fred de Boer (WUR) and his team are experts in analysis of spatial data, and understanding the impact of environmental conditions on occurrence and density of species, and he has a broad experience and collaborations with organisations responsible for wildlife surveillance and management.

Dr. Byron Martina
Byron Martina studied Biomedical Sciences and graduated as a Master in Immunology of Infectious Diseases at De Montfort University in Leicester (UK) in 1998. Then he joined the Department of Virology at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam (NL), to obtain his PhD degree in 2003. During this period he worked on the development and testing of vaccine candidates against herpesviruses.

He subsequently joined the "Emerging Viruses" team of the same department where he worked on the pathogenesis of SARS-Coronavirus. In doing so he developed an animal model for SARS, in which he evaluated several intervention strategies, including anti-viral treatment and new generations of vaccines.

Since 2008 he is team leader of the group "exotic viruses". The focus of his group is to study pathogenesis of Dengue, West Nile, Chikungunya, and Rabies virus infections and develop intervention strategies against these viruses. He is also responsible for development, validation and execution of diagnostics for the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arboviruses and Hemorrhagic Fevers Reference and Research, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Dr. Arjan Stroo
Arjan Stroo (CMV) has worked both at Naturalis and at the European Invertebrate Survey, which is the general knowledge centre for insect faunistics which provides links to techniques used in other fields in entomology. He has extensive experience in working with the main nature conservation organisations, which will be instrumental getting the hotspot studies organized. As a modeller drs. Adolfo Ibanez (CMV) is part of the testing team of Vecmap, the latest software for modelling the distribution of vectors. Internationally, CMV had an important role in formulation the Invasive Mosquito Monitoring Guidelines for the ECDC. Coöperation with leading scientists in the field of mosquito biology (for instance Francis Schaffner and others at Aviagis) and contributions to all major European congresses in this field, make CMV one of the more important mosquito monitoring knowledge centres in Europe.

Dr. Hein Sprong
Hein Sprong (RIVM) heads a multidisciplinary team of researchers that bridges the ecology and epidemiology of tick-borne diseases. He is the coordinator of a large national project that aims to control tick-borne diseases, and is a WP-leader in ANTIDotE, which aims to develop and implement anti-tick vaccines. He has a large scientific network, through participation in VBORNET and EURNEGVEC and through memberships of Advisory Board of European Concerted Action on Lyme Borreliosis (EUCALB), European Study Group for Lyme Borreliosis (ESGBOR). He coordinates the ECDC-tender which strives to control Lyme disease by the improvement of the (guidelines) of Lyme diagnostics.

Dr. Cees van Maanen
Cees van Maanen (GD) is a member of the ESVV (European Society of Veterinary Virology) and EAVLD (European Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians), and the national contact for FEEVA (Federation of European Equine Veterinary Associations), and has been actively engaged in EmZoo2. He has been involved in several surveillance programmes for WNV (for horses), Bluetongue (BTV), Schmallenberg virus (SBV), and equine infectious diseases (WNV, EIA, AHS). Together with ONIRIS in France and CODA-CERVA in Belgium, GD is active in EMIDA-ERA which aims to improve early detection of emerging vector borne diseases by using existing production and diagnostic data. In the EU funded project RISKSUR, GD tries with 11 European partners to develop a new generation of methodologies and tools for cost-effective risk-based animal health surveillance systems for the benefit of livestock producers, decision makers and consumers;
2012-2015; 11 European partners (www.fp7-risksur.eu).


  • Prof. Hans Heesterbeek, UU (voorzitter)
  • Mr. Yvonne De Nas, VWS
  • Ir. Hans Hollander, Zoogdiervereniging
  • Dr. Sjeng Lumeij, Jagersvereniging
  • Drs. Miriam L'Herminez, Programmaleider ZonMw
  • Prof. Willem Takken, WUR
  • Dr. Henk van der Jeugd, NIOO
  • Dr. Hans van de Kerkhof, LCI-CIb
  •  Ir. Folkert Folkertsma, EZ Agro
  • Drs. Annegien Helmens, EZ Natuur & Biodiversiteit
  • Dr. Jeroen Kortekaas, CVI

Relevante publicaties project team

Braks M, van der Giessen J, Kretzschmar M, van Pelt W, Scholte EJ, Reusken C, Zeller H, van Bortel W, Sprong H. Towards an integrated approach in surveillance of vector-borne diseases in Europe. Parasit Vectors. 2011 Oct 3;4:192.

Byron E. Martina and Albert D.M.E. Osterhaus. Chapter 23: Wildlife and the risk of vector-borne viral diseases. Emerging pests and vector-borne diseases in Europe (ISSN 1875-0699, Volume 1)

Cleton N, Koopmans M, Reimerink J, Godeke GJ, Reusken C. Come fly with me: review of clinically important arboviruses for global travelers. J Clin Virol. 2012 Nov;55(3):191-203. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Jul 25

Cleton N, Reusken C, Murk JL, de Jong M, Reimerink J, van der Eijk A, Koopmans M. Using routine diagnostic data as a method of surveillance of arboviral infection in travellers: A comparative analysis with a focus on dengue. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2013 Nov 7. pii: S1477-8939(13)00184-1. doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2013.10.015.

Coipan EC, Jahfari S, Fonville M, Maassen CB, van der Giessen J, Takken W, Takumi K, Sprong H. Spatiotemporal dynamics of emerging pathogens in questing Ixodes ricinus. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2013 Jul 30;3:36.

de Boer, W.F., S. van der Koppel, H. J. de Knegt, and J. J. A. Dekker (2013a). Hibernation site requirements of bats in man-made hibernacula in a spatial context . Ecological Applications 23:2, 502-514.

de Boer, Willem F., Frank van Langevelde, Herbert H.T. Prins, Peter C. de Ruiter, Julian Blanc, Marc J.P. Vis, Kevin J. Gaston, Iain Douglas Hamilton  (2013b). Understanding spatial differences in African elephant densities and occurrence, a continent-wide analysis. Biological Conservation 159 (2013) 468-476

de Knegt, H.J. , F. van Langevelde, A.K. Skidmore, A. Delsink, R. Slotow , S. Henley, G. Bucini, W.F. de Boer, M.B. Coughenour, C.C. Grant, I.M.A. Heitkönig, M. Henley, N.M. Knox, E.M. Kohi, E. Mwakiwa ,B.R. Page, M. Peel, Y. Pretorius, S.E. van Wieren and H.H.T. Prins (2011). The spatial scaling of habitat selection by African elephants. J.Anim Ecol. 80 (1) 270-281.

Heylen D, Matthysen E, Fonville M, Sprong H. Songbirds as general transmitters but selective amplifiers of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato genotypes in Ixodes rinicus ticks. Environ Microbiol. 2013 Oct 10. 

Hien TT, de Jong MD, Farrar J. Avian influenza--a challenge to global health care structures. N Engl J Med. 2004 Dec 2;351(23):2363-5.

Hofhuis A, Reimerink J, Reusken C, Scholte EJ, Boer Ad, Takken W, Koopmans M. The hidden passenger of lucky bamboo: do imported Aedes albopictus mosquitoes cause dengue virus transmission in the Netherlands? Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2009 Apr;9(2):217-20. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2008.0071.

Hovius JW, de Wever B, Sohne M, Brouwer MC, Coumou J, Wagemakers A, Oei A, Knol H, Narasimhan S, Hodiamont CJ, Jahfari S, Pals ST, Horlings HM, Fikrig E, Sprong H, van Oers MH. A case of meningoencephalitis by the relapsing fever spirochaete Borrelia miyamotoi in Europe. Lancet. 2013 Aug 17;382(9892):658.

Huang, Z. Y. X., C. Xua, F. van Langevelde, H. H. T. Prins, K. Ben Jebara, W. F. de Boer, Dilution effect and identity effect by wildlife in the persistence and recurrence of bovine tuberculosis. Parasitology.

Huang, Zheng Y.X., Willem F. de Boer, Frank van Langevelde, Chi Xu, Karim Ben Jebara, Francesco Berlingieri, Herbert H.T. Prins (2013) Dilution effect in bovine tuberculosis: risk factors for regional disease occurrence in Africa. Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences. 280:  20130624

Keawcharoen J, van den Broek J, Bouma A, Tiensin T, Osterhaus AD, Heesterbeek H. Wild birds and increased transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza(H5N1) among poultry, Thailand. Emerg Infect Dis. 2011

Koopmans M. Surveillance strategy for early detection of unusual infectious disease events. Curr Opin Virol. 2013 Apr;3(2):185-91
Kuiken T, Leighton FA, Fouchier RA, LeDuc JW, Peiris JS, Schudel A, Stöhr K, Osterhaus AD. Public health. Pathogen surveillance in animals. Science. 2005

Lim SM, Koraka P, Osterhaus AD, Martina BE. Development of a strand-specific real-time qRT-PCR for the accurate detection and quantitation of West Nile virus RNA. J Virol Methods. 2013 Dec;194(1-2):146-53.

Lim SM, Koraka P, van Boheemen S, Roose JM, Jaarsma D, van de Vijver DA, Osterhaus AD, Martina BE. Characterization of the mouse neuroinvasiveness of selected European strains of West Nile virus. PLoS One. 2013

Martina BE, Koraka P, Osterhaus AD. Dengue virus pathogenesis: an integrated view. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2009 Oct;22(4):564-81.

Moesker FM, Muskiet FD, Koeijers JJ, Fraaij PL, Gerstenbluth I, van Gorp EC, Osterhaus AD. Fatal dengue in patients with sickle cell disease or sickle cell anemia in Curaçao: two case reports. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013 Aug 8;7(8)

Peiris JS, de Jong MD, Guan Y. Avian influenza virus (H5N1): a threat to human health. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2007 Apr;20(2):243-67.
Reperant LA, Fuckar NS, Osterhaus AD, Dobson AP, Kuiken T. Spatial and temporal association of outbreaks of H5N1 influenza virus infection in wild birds with the 0 degrees C isotherm. PLoS Pathog. 2010

Reperant LA, Kuiken T, Osterhaus AD. Adaptive pathways of zoonotic influenza viruses: from exposure to establishment in humans. Vaccine. 2012 Jun 22;30(30):4419-34.

Reusken CB, Haagmans BL, Müller MA, Gutierrez C, Godeke GJ, Meyer B, Muth D, Raj VS, Smits-De Vries L, Corman VM, Drexler JF, Smits SL, El Tahir YE, De Sousa R, van Beek J, Nowotny N, van Maanen K, Hidalgo-Hermoso E, Bosch BJ, Rottier P, Osterhaus A, Gortázar-Schmidt C, Drosten C, Koopmans MP. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus neutralising serum antibodies in dromedary camels: a comparative serological study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2013a , Oct;13(10):859-66. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70164

Reusken CB, Mou H, Godeke GJ, van der Hoek L, Meyer B, Müller MA, Haagmans B, de Sousa R, Schuurman N, Dittmer U, Rottier P, Osterhaus A, Drosten C, Bosch BJ, Koopmans M. Specific serology for emerging human coronaviruses by protein microarray. Euro Surveill. 2013b, Apr 4;18(14):20441

Reusken CB, De Vries A, Ceelen E, Beeuwkes J, Scholte E. A study of the circulation of West Nile virus, Sindbis virus, Batai virus and Usutu virus in mosquitoes in a potential high-risk area for arbovirus circulation in the Netherlands, "De Oostvaardersplassen". European Mosquito Bulletin 29 (2011), 66-81.

Reusken CB, Ankje De Vries, Wietse Den Hartog, Marieta Braks and Ernst-Jan Scholte. A study of the circulation of West Nile virus in mosquitoes in a potential high-risk area for arbovirus circulation in the Netherlands, "De Oostvaardersplassen". European Mosquito Bulletin 28 (2010), 69-83.

Reusken CB, Bakker J, Reimerink JH, Zelena H, Koopmans MG. Underdiagnosis of chikungunya virus infections in symptomatic dutch travelers returning from the Indian ocean area. J Travel Med. 2013 Jan-Feb;20(1):44-6.

Reusken CB, de Vries A, Buijs J, Braks MA, den Hartog W, Scholte EJ. First evidence for presence of Culex pipiens biotype molestus in the Netherlands, and of hybrid biotype pipiens and molestus in northern Europe. J Vector Ecol. 2010 Jun;35(1):210-2.

Rockx B, van Asten L, van den Wijngaard C, Godeke GJ, Goehring L, Vennema H, van der Avoort H, van Pelt W, Koopmans M. Syndromic surveillance in the Netherlands for the early detection of West Nile virus epidemics. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2006 Summer;6(2):161-9.

Schaffner F, Bellini R, Petric D, Scholte EJ, Zeller H., Marrama-Rakotoarivony L. Development of guidelines for the surveillance of  invasive mosquitoes in Europe. Parasites & Vectors 2013 ; 6: 209-219.99999

Scholte EJ, Dijkstra E, Blok H, De Vries A, Takken W, Hofhuis A, Koopmans M, De Boer A, Reusken CB. Accidental importation of the mosquito Aedes albopictus into the Netherlands: a survey of mosquito distribution and the presence of dengue virus. Med Vet Entomol. 2008 Dec;22(4):352-8.

Si Y, de Boer WF, Gong P (2013) Different Environmental Drivers of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 Outbreaks in Poultry and Wild Birds. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53362.

Si, Yali, Andrew K. Skidmore,, Tiejun Wang, Willem F. de Boer, Pravesh Debba, Albert G. Toxopeus, Lin Li and Herbert H.T. Prins (2009). Spatio-temporal dynamics of global H5N1 outbreaks match bird migration patterns. Geospatial Health. 4(1): 65-78.

Sprong H, Hofhuis A, Gassner F, Takken W, Jacobs F, van Vliet AJ, van Ballegooijen M, van der Giessen J, Takumi K. Circumstantial evidence for an increase in the total number and activity of Borrelia-infected Ixodes ricinus in the Netherlands. Parasit Vectors. 2012 Dec 17;5:294.

Takumi K, Scholte EJ, Braks M, Reusken C, Avenell D, Medlock JM. Introduction, scenarios for establishment and seasonal activity of Aedes albopictus in The Netherlands.Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2009 Apr;9(2):191-6.

Timen A, Koopmans MP, Vossen AC, van Doornum GJ, Günther S, van den Berkmortel F, Verduin KM, Dittrich S, Emmerich P, Osterhaus AD, van Dissel JT, Coutinho RA  Response to imported case of Marburg hemorrhagic fever, the Netherlands. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 Aug;15(8):1171-5.

Van der Giessen JWB, van de Giessen, AW, Braks, MAH. Emerging zoonoses: early warning and surveillance in the Netherlands. RIVM-rapport 330214002, 2010.

Verhagen JH, Munster VJ, Majoor F, Lexmond P, Vuong O, Stumpel JB, Rimmelzwaan GF, Osterhaus AD, Schutten M, Slaterus R, Fouchier RA. Avian influenza a virus in wild birds in highly urbanized areas. PLoS One. 2012;7(6)

Weaver SC, Reisen WK. Present and future arboviral threats. Antiviral Res. 2010 Feb;85(2):328-45. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2009.10.008. Epub 2009 Oct 24.

Wertheim HF, Puthavathana P, Nghiem NM, van Doorn HR, Nguyen TV, Pham HV, Subekti D, Harun S, Malik S, Robinson J, Rahman M, Taylor W, Lindegardh N, Wignall S, Farrar JJ, de Jong MD. Laboratory capacity building in Asia for infectious disease research: experiences from the South East Asia Infectious Disease Clinical Research Network (SEAICRN). PLoS Med. 2010 Apr 6;7(4):e1000231.

Zhang YZ, He YW, Dai YA, Xiong Y, Zheng H, Zhou DJ, Li J, Sun Q, Luo XL, Cheng YL, Qin XC, Tian JH, Chen XP, Yu B, Jin D, Guo WP, Li W, Wang W, Peng JS, Zhang GB, Zhang S, Chen XM, Wang Y, Li MH, Li Z, Lu S, Ye C, de Jong MD, Xu J. Hemorrhagic fever caused by a novel Bunyavirus in China: pathogenesis and correlates of fatal outcome. Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Feb 15;54(4):527-33.

Eco-alert Management Office
Erasmus Medical Centre, Viroscience Lab
Wytemaweg 80
3015 CN Rotterdam
The Netherlands

E-mail: eco-alert@erasmusmc.nl
Tel: +31 10 704 4770