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Vectorie (closed)

Europe combats mosquito borne diseases

In light of the increased risk of West Nile disease and Chikungunya fever in Europe, scientists developed a proactive approach to anticipate on and deal with the threat of these mosquito-borne infectious diseases at the EU level.

West Nile virus (WNV) and Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) are viruses spread by mosquitoes (vectors) causing disease in humans. The aim of the VECTORIE (Vector-borne risks for Europe: risk assessment and control of West Nile and Chikungunya virus) project was to enhance Europe's preparedness for vector-borne emerging diseases caused by WNV and CHIKV. The initiative combined expertise from the fields of virology, entomology and advanced vaccinology to monitor disease spread and diagnose, prevent and treat WNV and CHIKV infections.

CHIKV is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes and humans are the only known hosts for the virus. For WNV, humans and birds are both hosts, but this virus can only produce sufficient viral levels in birds for transmission to other mosquitoes. These then infect other birds, humans and horses.

vectorie

VECTORIE was divided into three main parts: vector biology, virulence and pathogenesis, and vaccine related studies. Vector biology involved the susceptibility of birds and mammals to the diseases and the effectiveness of mosquitoes in transmitting them. This provided vital information regarding the risk of the spreading potential of WNV and CHIKV in Europe, and potential to cause outbreaks of human disease, allowing more tailored surveillance programs for European countries to detect and predict emerging WNV and/or CHIKV outbreaks.

The project also addressed the need for understanding how the different WNV strains that circulate in Europe differ in their capacity to cause severe disease. Furthermore, the project elucidated molecular pathways involved in WNV and CHIKV neuroinvasive disease. These investigations are important for future development of improved diagnostic and prognostic tools as well as novel intervention strategies to treat infected patients.

Vaccines, the third aspect of the project, addressed Europe's need to develop novel vaccination strategies for at-risk populations. Researchers developed several novel effective vaccine candidates to protect against either WNV or CHIKV. Hereby, the consortium provided novel vaccine strategies for these vector-borne diseases, since an efficient approach to control outbreaks caused by WNV and CHIKV is vaccination of people at risk.

VECTORIE made a major contribution to the creation of an integrated research capacity on vector-borne emerging diseases in Europe and brought together experts from different fields. The project also organised training courses for young scientists on emerging vector borne diseases to work on safeguarding Europe's health in the future.

For more information: Website Vectorie