Nancy Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife
Address : CS 40009 54220 Malzéville
Phone : +33 (0)3 83 29 89 50
Manager : Elodie Monchâtre-Leroy
Through multiple collaborations within national epidemiological surveillance networks and field studies, the laboratory contributes to national knowledge of the health status of wildlife. As wildlife may act as reservoirs of zoonoses or diseases that are transmissible to domestic animals, monitoring their health status is both a public health and an economic issue. The laboratory has a staff of 43, two research units and an experimental station.
The Laboratory plays a part in national surveillance of the health status of wildlife:
- it studies pathogenic agents (viruses and parasites);
- it monitors the emergence and/or spread of diseases, analyses their causes and assesses the health risks of some of them; it thus participates in gathering and interpreting data for monitoring the health of wild animals.
Much of its technical activities are performed in a Level 3 containment area that includes the L3 laboratories and A3 animal housing areas. The laboratory’s areas of specialisation are:
- animal rabies, with a current focus on rabies in bats;
- certain wildlife zoonoses, in particular alveolar echinococcosis, but also Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis and hantaviruses.
Its reference mandates are:
- National Reference Laboratory for echinococcosis and rabies;
- Reference Laboratory for rabies for both the European Union and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE); (visit the website)
- World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Research and Management on Zoonoses Control.
Rabies in bats in France
Assessment of the pathogenicity of certain viruses circulating in France for domestic carnivores and foxes.
Development and standardisation of methods
Rabies serology, echinococcosis diagnosis.
Tests on prevention methods, study of the role of dogs and cats in the cycle, assessment of carriage in urban foxes.
2 research units
Surveillance and eco-epidemiology of wildlife
The Surveillance and eco-epidemiology of wildlife unit of ANSES Nancy Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife (LRFSN) is a new unit dedicated to the surveillance and study of the role of wildlife in the circulation of health hazards, essentially pathogenic zoonoses or pathogens in common with domestic animals, with prevention and/or control as its main objective. The work done in the framework of its activities is cross-cutting, conducted in conjunction with other ANSES units (NRLs of the pathogens studied and epidemiologists) and/or other relevant organisations involved in wildlife diseases and ecology (ONCFS, FNC-FDC, INRA, veterinary schools, universities, veterinary laboratories, NCRs for the diseases studied). In addition, through its NRL mandate for Echinococcus spp, the unit is tasked with improving and developing the diagnostic and epidemiological surveillance tools for Echinococcus parasites sensu lato (mainly E. multilocularis and E. granulosus) in wild and domestic animals, and in production animals in particular. In the framework of this mandate, the unit works in close cooperation with the alveolar echinococcosis NCR.
The unit's epidemiological surveillance and epidemiology work has developed mainly in the following areas:
- General surveillance of wildlife diseases through the contribution to epidemiological analysis provided on the one hand by data from the SAGIR network administered by the ONCFS and the FNC in conjunction with the FDCs, and by epidemiological work conducted through targeted surveys within the network, and on the other hand by coordination of the wildlife topic of the French Epidemiological surveillance platform for animal health (in French only).
- Epidemiological surveillance and epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis (BT) in wildlife: participation in the network organisation unit and steering committee of the Sylvatub plan for the national surveillance of BT in wild suids, deer and badgers; and conducting research work for improving diagnostic tools that can be used for wild boars. In addition, the unit contributes, in association with the LRFSN's experimental platform and the NRL for tuberculosis (LSAn), to the development of knowledge on BT vaccinology in badgers through conducting experimental projects on badgers in captivity, in collaboration with the AHVLA – UK).
- Wildlife epidemiology of tick-borne diseases. The main study model is European tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), on which research work is being developed in collaboration with LSAn's BIPAR unit; the SEEpiAS unit is investigating the role of wild reservoirs, and the LSAn is investigating the role of vectors. The unit also contributes, in conjunction with the Borrelia NCR, to surveillance in the wildlife compartment of Lyme disease agents.
- In the framework of the Echinococcus spp. NRL issued by the DGAL: diagnostic developments (molecular biology in particular), descriptive epidemiology (in association with the ELIZ) and molecular epidemiology for alveolar echinococcosis (E. multilocularis) and hydatidosis (E. granulosus). Determination of sources of production animal contamination by E. granulosus with a control strategy proposal, and exploration of identified French E. ortleppi outbreaks. Analysis of high-risk behaviours for the prevention of human contamination by E. multilocularis. In order to improve access to information on echinococcosis in France, the NRL for Echinococcus publishes a newsletter, the ÉCHINOTE. (View the newsletters - in French only)
Applied to the health context, the goals and activities of the Lyssavirus unit (ULYS) involve animal rabies surveillance on both the national and international levels. Priority is currently concentrated on the international recognition of the laboratory, since the unit holds five international mandates (EURL for rabies, EURL for rabies serology, OIE reference laboratory for rabies, WHO collaborating centre for zoonosis control, and EDQM official medicines control laboratory (OMCL) as well as a national mandate (NRL for rabies). Thanks to the wide-ranging multidisciplinarity of its activities and expertise (epidemiology, immunology, vaccinology, classical virology and molecular biology), reference, epidemiological intelligence and expert assessment play a major role, and research is conducted through several collaborative projects.
The Lyssavirus unit, with a staff of 15 and four departments managed by specialised team leaders (serology/virology, rabies diagnostics and vaccine monitoring, epidemiology and molecular biology), has both national partners (Institut Pasteur de Paris, OIE, DGAL, Departmental veterinary laboratories, etc.) and international partners (WHO, EC, EDQM, EFSA, European NRL networks, 65 serology-accredited laboratories, etc.). Most of its activities are conducted in a biosafety level-3 laboratory or in an accredited testing station.
The unit is COFRAC-accredited in accordance with the NF EN ISO/CEI 17025 standard for rabies serology in cell cultures and for rabies diagnostics, and through the EDQM's Mutual Joint Audit for the monitoring of inactivated human and veterinary vaccines and live oral vaccines. One of the unit's staff members is a technical assessor for COFRAC and for the EDQM.
The unit regularly publishes its work and work conducted collaboratively in referenced international journals, participates in international conventions and routinely reviews scientific articles. Each year, ULYSS organises a workshop in the context of its international mandates.
- Coordination of the national animal rabies epidemiological surveillance network (diagnoses of suspected cases in wild and domestic animals).
- Coordination of the network of international and national laboratories involved in serological analysis.
- Coordination of the network of European Union laboratories (animal rabies surveillance and oral vaccination campaign monitoring):
- Serological and diagnostic analyses (techniques referenced by the OIE).
- Typing of viral strains.
- Organisation of inter-laboratory proficiency tests in serology, for diagnosis (4 methods) and for the bone tissue tetracycline detection technique.
- Production and distribution of canine reference serum (OIE serum) and reagents.
- Assessment of reagents and of new methods, both in-house and by international collaborative studies (test harmonisation).
- Development of alternative in-house and collaborative techniques (ELISA, real-time PCR, pyrosequencing, etc.).
- Recommendations for rabies surveillance and control, advice to international bodies and drafting of reports.
- Hands-on internships, in-house or on-site training.
- Control testing of inactivated veterinary vaccines and live oral vaccines.
- Assessment of new methods, participation in EDQM collaborative studies.
- Hands-on internships, in-house or on-site training.
- Assessment of new vaccines in testing stations.
- Two current European projects (7th PCRDs): Prédémics, and ICONZ, in collaboration with Morocco and Mali, for establishing a rabies control and surveillance model for these countries.
- Programmed bat rabies surveillance (micro-sampling of blood and saliva) in several infected colonies monitored each year since 2009 to study horizontal virus transmission modes between individuals.
- Experimental studies on the ability of bat rabies viruses to cross species barriers and vaccine protection using inactive veterinary vaccines.
- Work on rabies immunity, mostly collaboratively, in order to study the humoral responses of vaccinated animals, and the development of the serological test (FAVN test) for the newly-identified virus (BBLV).
- Research on optimising molecular characterisation methods for the various rabies viruses circulating throughout the world and recently identified.
The Lyssavirus unit is also involved in international scientific collaborations on a regular basis for specific studies on rabies epidemiology and controlling it through vaccination.
Expert assessment is directly related to the unit's five international mandates:
- Participation in expert meetings on rabies epidemiology and control and in working groups of the EC (DG-SANCO, TAIEX), EDQM and EFSA.
- Aiding supervisory authorities and international organisations in decision making.
- Knowledge and expertise transfer to the authorities of infected countries and participation in devising eradication plans and specific training programmes (IPA, BTSF and TAIEX projects).
- Expert assessment of eradication programme dossiers submitted to the EC by EU member or candidate countries.
- Collaboration in twinning and cooperation programmes in order to propose and/or assess rabies control strategies suited to specific socio-economic constraints and epidemiological situations.
- Expert assessment (EC, WHO, OIE, national authorities) and inspection (FVO) of dog and fox rabies surveillance and control programmes, monitoring, audits, and resolution of issues encountered by the laboratories and relevant authorities.
- Zoonoses: WHO collaborating centre (research and management).
- Rabies serology: EU Reference Laboratory.
- Rabies: EU Reference Laboratory, OIE Reference Laboratory, National Reference Laboratory.
- Echinococcosis: National Reference Laboratory.
Types of analysis
- Diagnosis for epidemiological surveillance of rabies.
- Monitoring of the infection of bats by lyssaviruses.
- Epidemiological surveillance of rabies.
- Titration of rabies antibodies in dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies, and in foxes.
- Vaccine control (oral and parenteral use).
- Analysis of tetracycline on fox teeth.
- Diagnosis of echinococcosis in animals.
- Serological analyses (haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome).
Inter-laboratory proficiency tests (ILPTs)
- Technique for titration of neutralising rabies antibodies
- European Commission
- French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Directorate General for Food)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
- Entente de Lutte Interdépartementale contre les Zoonoses (ELIZ)
- National Office for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS)
- Network of 54 international laboratories for rabies serology
- Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA, Weybridge, UK)
- University of Franche-Comté
- Institut Pasteur in Paris and Lyon
- Meurthe-et-Moselle General Departmental Council
- Lorraine Regional Council
- Greater Nancy Urban Community