Maisons-Alfort Laboratory for Animal Health
Address : 14, rue Pierre et Marie Curie 94706 Maisons-Alfort Cedex
Phone : +33 (0) 1 49 77 13 00
Manager : Pascal Boireau
ANSES’s Animal Health Laboratory is located at Maisons-Alfort on the campus of the French National Veterinary School of Alfort (ENVA), which it is part of. Founded in 1901, this was the first laboratory created in the world to fight against infectious and contagious animal diseases. The laboratory is still today internationally recognised, and it carries out critical missions for France and Europe in the field of animal health and public health. It brings together over one hundred people grouped into four main units, covering all fields of infectious diseases in animal health. It is closely connected with the ENVA campus, with which it shares premises and staff.
The laboratory performs considerable reference work (NRL, CRL, EURL, OIE, FAO, etc.) and a sustained level of research activity in partnership with other institutions (INRA, ENVA, universities). It has also been accredited by the French Ministry of Research (UMR, USC). The laboratory’s work focuses on the control of major animal disease epidemics (foot and mouth disease, bluetongue, etc.), and emerging multi-species infectious animal diseases (such as the new Schmallenberg virus that appeared recently in Germany, the Netherlands, and then in the UK and France, and later expanded to the east and north of Europe), including vector-borne diseases and opportunistic fungal infections. The laboratory was awarded many European contracts in 2011 and there was a qualitative and quantitative increase in the number of publications by its researchers.
In the context of its work, it provides a sustained level of scientific and technical support in two main areas:
- Major reference and expert assessment activities,
- High-quality research work conducted in partnership with other institutions and accredited by the French Ministry of Research (Joint research unit)
The laboratory’s work focuses on three main topics:
- Controlling major animal disease epidemics (foot and mouth disease, bluetongue, etc.),
- Bacterial, viral and parasitic zoonoses,
- Emerging multi-species infectious animal diseases (vector-borne diseases and opportunistic fungal infections in particular).
The laboratory relies on its wide scope of expertise to provide decision support to the health authorities by:
- developing tools for faster and more reliable detection and characterisation of pathogens in domestic and wild animals (diagnosis by quantitative PCR) as well as new typing methods: Multiple-Locus Variable-Number Tandem-Repeat (VNTR) and Multiple-Locus Analysis (MLVA).
- analysing host-pathogen relationships in order to implement new strategies for animal disease prevention (vaccines).
- monitoring the emergence of the epizootic diseases for which it is responsible, in order to prevent their dissemination and analyse their causes. In this way, the laboratory contributes to the assessment of their associated risks, and is responsible for issuing "foot and mouth disease and related vesicular disease" alerts.
- As a reference laboratory for most multi-species zoonotic and epizootic animal diseases at the national, European and international level, it provides scientific and technical support for the health control of these diseases.
- Development of new diagnostic and prevention methods for major animal viral diseases (foot and mouth virus, bluetongue virus, etc.);
- Managing epidemiology networks (West Nile virus, other equine viruses, bluetongue virus);
- Risk analysis for transmission from animals to humans (West Nile virus, Bornavirus, coronavirus, picornavirus, hepatitis E virus);
- Analysis of potential public health risks associated with animal viruses: virus/host interaction, inter-species transmission;
- Working on generic approaches in vaccinology: developing new vectors associated with encoding genes for the major antigens of different viruses that are important economically;
- Developing molecular tools for monitoring tick infection by zoonotic arboviruses (see below).
Parasitic Zoonoses: "Foodborne helminths and protozoans"
- Epidemiological studies aimed at better understanding the circulation and the prevalence among certain wild animal and domestic species (of parasites such as Toxoplasma, Alaria alata); at determining the role of certain unusual species in the epidemiological cycle (such as dogs and Trichinella in Corsica); and at a better understanding of the risks that could result for humans;
- Implementation of new tools for screening and diagnosis in various animal species of parasitic zoonotic agents transmitted through meat products, in particular Trichinella, Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium;
- Development of cellular tools for assessing infectivity of zoonotic protists (Cryptosporidium);
- Implementation of new vaccine tools (such as Trichinella, Toxoplasma) or screening of therapeutic compounds (Cryptosporidium) to strengthen control of zoonotic parasites transmitted through meat products.
Bacterial zoonoses: vector-borne zoonotic bacteria and viruses
In particular Brucellosis sp., Chlamydia, Mycobacterium sp, Bacillus anthracis; vector-borne zoonotic bacteria: Francisella tularensis, Bartonella, Anaplasma; vector-borne zoonotic viruses, such as the tick-borne encephalitis virus, the virus for Crimean-Congo fever, etc.
- Development of tools for phenotypic or molecular differentiation of bacterial strains, for more precise epidemiological monitoring of outbreaks and for establishing relationships between animal outbreaks and human cases;
Development and validation of direct (molecular biology) or indirect (immunology) diagnostic tools and integrating th
- Development of generic approaches for studying the interactions between pathogens transmitted by arthropod vectors: identifying virulence factors using a mutant bank, introduction of tick breeding, experimental models of infection in mice;
- Conducting epidemiological studies in production animals to validate diagnostic and/or screening tools for use in wildlife and/or in vectors for health monitoring, identification of reservoir populations and/or victims of zoonotic bacterial and viral infections (for example, tick-borne encephalitis), in collaboration with other ANSES laboratories and other agencies;
- Development of alternative methods of total sequencing in order to gain a better understanding of the bacterial species involved, intra-species relationships, and the zoonotic potential of strains of animal origin (for example, Anaplasma);
- Study of the interactions between vector-borne bacteria and their vertebrate and invertebrate hosts in order to shed light on the mechanisms involved in virulence, and developing characterisation techniques for zoonotic strains and perfecting vaccines
- Modelling, decision support and bio-statistics applied to different types of animal pathogens (Cervidae tuberculosis, bluetongue, Trichinellosis, etc.).
- Health monitoring, risk assessment and analysis, response systems applied in an emergency, especially in monitoring vesicular aphthous diseases, and in particular foot and mouth disease.
Mycology: “Opportunistic and emerging fungal infections” (Aspergillus, Pneumocystis…)
- Characterising the circulation of pathogens in target species, especially at the moment of infectious contact.
- Identifying the sources of infestation or infection, and the reservoirs in the environment and in the various species involved for each of the pathogens described.
- Studying the relationship between humans and animals.
- Bacterial zoonoses
- Virology (ANSES-INRA-ENVA joint research unit)
Parasitic and Fungal Molecular Biology and Immunology (ANSES-ENVA-University of Paris-XII-USC INRA joint research unit)
In France: Institutional Partners
ANSES laboratories, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Directorate General for Food), French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS), French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), Centre for Research and Monitoring of Emerging Diseases in the Indian Ocean (CRVOI), French Space Agency (CNES), National Veterinary Schools, Institut Pasteur in Paris, French Animal Health Certification Association, National Federations of Health Protection Groups, National Office for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS), Bouchet Study Centre, Military Hospital at Begin, Research Centre of the Military Health Service, The Central Laboratory of the Prefecture de Police, University of Paris-Sud-Orsay, University of Paris Est, University of Paris VI, ABIES Doctoral School, Île-de-France Regional Council
In France: Private Companies and Institutes
MERIAL, SEPPIC, ID-VET, Institut Pourquier, Bio-Rad, Microvision, Pfizer, Jansen-Cilag
Lanzhou Agricultural University (China), Jilin University (China), Guangxi University (China), Centre for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute CINVESTAV (Mexico), Agrifood Research & Technology Centre CITA (Spain), Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre CODA-CERVA (Belgium), Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, USA), University of California, Davis (USA), University of Zagreb (Croatia), all European national reference laboratories, the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth disease (EuFMD) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome (Italy), a large number of European research institutes (all countries of the European Union are represented).