Since 2001, ANSES has actively participated in the surveillance and control of bluetongue disease (BT). Its actions take on various forms. At the request of its supervisory ministries, it regularly produces risk assessments related to this animal disease and issues recommendations on health and medical measures to be adopted. Through the missions of the French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products (ANMV), ANSES regulates the marketing of vaccines and helps monitor adverse reactions. Furthermore, the Agency shares the mandate of National Reference Laboratory for bluetongue with the French Centre for Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD). In this capacity, it works to continuously improve diagnostic tools and knowledge of the disease and provides the French Ministry of Agriculture with scientific and technical support.
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Updated on 27/10/2017
Bluetongue, the role of ANSES
The role of ANSES
Through its risk assessment, reference, monitoring and research activities and by regulating the use of veterinary medicinal products, the Agency has gained renowned expertise on bluetongue. Relying on available expertise, dedicated structures and acquired experience, the Agency has conducted a series of studies to respond to needs in the areas of diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance and vaccinology.
The Agency regularly receives requests from the French Ministry of Agriculture to analyse the health situation, assess risks related to bluetongue and propose/assess changes in surveillance and control measures at national and sometimes local levels. From 2001 to 2011, 46 opinions were issued (an average of five opinions per year) generally in the month following the request. These Opinions identified a number of research requirements to improve risk assessment and better control the spread of the virus. Several recommendations regarding surveillance as well as prevention and control measures were also made.
Following the nascent outbreak of a BTV1 bluetongue epizootic in Corsica in early September 2013, an emergency collective expert appraisal group (GECU) was created to respond to the DGAL’s questions on the assessment of bluetongue outbreak management measures.
ANSES and CIRAD (Centre for Agricultural Research for Development) share the mandate of National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for bluetongue. ANSES’s Maisons-Alfort Laboratory for Animal Health performs virological testing (detection of the viral genome by PCR, typing, viral isolation) while CIRAD UR15 in Montpellier conducts serological testing.
In the framework of its reference activities, the Maisons-Alfort Laboratory for Animal Health develops PCR diagnostic techniques and coordinates the network of departmental veterinary laboratories (LVDs) for molecular testing. The real-time PCR technique developed by the laboratory was thus decentralised to 65 LVDs in less than two years (2006-2008).
In collaboration with three manufacturers, the NRL also helped develop and validate commercial kits for quantitative PCR (qPCR) in order to ensure the rapid dissemination of diagnostic kits in accredited departmental laboratories. The two laboratories that make up the NRL for bluetongue participate in the network led by the EU Reference Laboratory for bluetongue, the Institute for Animal Health (IAH, Pirbright, United Kingdom).
Moreover, the ANSES Sophia-Antipolis laboratory is accredited for serological testing.
The expertise of the Maisons-Alfort Laboratory for Animal Health in the area of arboviruses, and more specifically the bluetongue virus, also allowed it to play a leading role in the development of diagnostic tools for Schmallenberg virus in the winter of 2011-2012.
Epidemiological surveillance, Monitoring, Information
In 2007, in the midst of the crisis sparked by serotype 8, weekly epidemiological updates on the bluetongue epidemic in Europe were prepared. They were written by the Animal Health, Nutrition and Welfare Risk Assessment Unit of the Risk Assessment Department and published on the ANSES website. This initiative supplemented the work undertaken by the Directorate General for Food (Ministry of Agriculture) for France, and by the European surveillance network for bluetongue (BTV-Net) to regularly identify and update the number of cases. Taking into account developments in the health situation, epidemiological updates were issued on a regular basis until 2010 but at less frequent intervals.
Since then, the Agency’s scientists, and particularly those in the NRL for bluetongue, have regularly provided animal health professionals with information through the specialised press and specific actions.
ANSES is extensively involved in the French Epidemiological Surveillance Platform for Animal Health, which was created in 2011. The mission of this platform is to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made to monitor current and emerging health hazards in France. Its activities are focused on methodological developments (network assessment, infocentre) and bluetongue was one of its seven priority topics defined for 2012.
Veterinary medicinal products
The French Agency for National Medicinal Products (ANMV) assesses and validates, when appropriate, national and European Marketing Authorisation applications for all veterinary medicinal products.
Within the framework of the Provisional Authorisation for Use procedure, the ANMV rapidly made vaccines against bluetongue serotypes 1 and 8 available. It now examines the Marketing Authorisation (MA) applications submitted by manufacturers and monitors adverse reactions occurring after vaccination.