10/02/2022

Research activities of the Laboratory for Animal Health

The laboratory's research activities focus on problems that threaten animal health. Its mission is to identify pathogens affecting herds (mainly cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and Equidae) and causing epizootics (animal epidemics) or zoonoses (animal diseases whose pathogens can be transmitted to humans). In this regard, it studies agents of all kinds (bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi) responsible for infectious diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, bluetongue, bovine tuberculosis, trichinellosis, etc. The laboratory also develops research on different vectors of diseases (ticks and Culicoides biting midges, for example).

The laboratory conducts its research in four main areas:

  • characterisation of pathogens: research focuses on the development of new tools and tests to identify and characterise pathogens, in particular with regard to their virulence;
  • host-pathogen interactions: the aim here is to understand the mechanisms behind the crossing of the species barrier, and also to develop new vaccine approaches. This component also focuses on improving infection control methods;
  • interactions with the environment: this work is essentially carried out by epidemiologists in conjunction with microbiologists. It involves studying interactions between the climate and pathogens, detecting pathogen reservoirs in the environment and developing new surveillance tools;
  • emerging threats: the laboratory has to deal with numerous emerging animal diseases, which have been growing in number since the early 2000s. The laboratory has recently been focusing on the transmission of COVID-19 from animals to humans and vice versa. Its work relies on epidemiological investigations and modelling.

These research strands encompass four of ANSES's six cross-cutting strategic themes: Animal health & welfare, Epidemiology, Food Safety and Antimicrobial resistance.

The laboratory works according to the "One Health" concept. In this capacity, it is now involved in the One Health 2.0 research field of major interest (DRIM), after having coordinated the DIM1Health (Île de France region). This new DRIM One Health 2.0 project aims to improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of human and animal infections.

The laboratory also provides scientific and technical support and data to risk managers, in particular with regard to emerging diseases. Its integration at the heart of the two campuses of the Alfort National Veterinary School (ENVA) in Maisons-Alfort and Normandy enables it to share the school's infrastructure, staff and research projects, while benefiting from support from the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE), through its two joint research units (Virology and BIPAR).

The laboratory hosts doctoral students from the doctoral schools of the higher education and research communities of eastern Paris (Paris Est Sup), with the ABIES doctoral school, and from the University of Normandy in Caen. It usually hosts around 20 doctoral students in its various research structures.