Epidemiology of Infectious Animal Diseases (EpiMAI) USC

Head of Unit: Benoît Durand

The Epidemiology of Infectious Animal Diseases Unit is under contract (USC) with the National Veterinary School of Alfort (ENVA). It focuses on epidemiology and reports to the Epidemiology Unit of the Laboratory for Animal Health.

Surveillance activities

Two members of the EpiMAI unit participate in the national working group of the Epidemiological surveillance platform for animal health (ESA Platform) on bovine tuberculosis, run by the Directorate General for Food (DGAL). This working group monitors the health situation and development of the related regulations. One of the unit's scientists co-leads the monitoring group on the assessment of surveillance schemes, involving the three platforms in animal health, plant health and food chain safety. 

Expert appraisal activities 

One member of the unit chairs ANSES's emergency collective expert appraisal group (GECU) on highly pathogenic avian influenza, which receives regular requests from the DGAL during health crises.

Research activities 

The unit's research themes are divided into four areas:

  • epidemiological surveillance;
  • describing infected populations, contact networks and the effect of biosecurity measures;
  • understanding epidemiological dynamics;
  • providing support for decision-making.

Research projects

ERASURV (2017-2020)

Funding: ANSES and the French Animal Health Network (RFSA)

Bovine tuberculosis is a zoonotic disease for which European and French regulatory measures have been defined, to enable its eradication. However, despite decades of effort, this has not been achieved in France. This project was able to investigate the epidemiological, economic and sociological obstacles to the eradication of this disease, through a quantitative assessment of the cost-effectiveness ratio of the components of the ante mortem surveillance scheme. For the first time, the study integrated stakeholder practices (of veterinarians in particular) and the influence of human factors in the implementation of surveillance. A multi-criteria ranking method was adapted to animal health, in order to facilitate and rationalise decision-making in a multi-factorial context. This work is continuing with a multi-criteria assessment of biosecurity measures in cattle farming.

Funding: ENVA

Although free of rabies in non-flying mammals, France is not immune to the risk, since imports of rabid dogs or cats are regularly reported. To better understand this risk, the project conducted a quantitative analysis of the risk of bringing the rabies virus to France via the introduction or reintroduction of imported or travelling domestic carnivores, depending on the country of origin and the effectiveness of border controls. Moreover, a quantitative assessment of the surveillance scheme for biting and scratching animals showed a sub-optimal benefit-risk ratio with regard to human mortality, taking into account the potential road accidents that could occur during travel required for veterinary visits. Work on modelling the spread of the rabies virus within domestic carnivore populations, if it were introduced into France, is currently under way, via reconstitution of the network of contacts between domestic dogs.