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Emerging and Transboundary Diseases

We study emerging viral infections with severe impact on animal and human health, mainly African swine fever, West Nile fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever and COVID-19. We carry out an intense cooperation and technology transfer activity with more than 60 countries.

Grupo de investigación dependiente del

Animal Health research Center (INIA-CISA)

Emerging and transboundary viral infections of animals have severe economic and sanitary impact. Some of them are zoonoses and have also serious implications in public health. The research objectives of the group are (1) improving the knowledge of these diseases and the pathogens involved and (2) the development of technologies and strategies for their prevention, diagnosis and control.

The main research topics of the group are:

• African swine fever (ASF): biological and molecular characterization studies of circulating viral isolates; transmission, evolution and persistence studies; vaccine development and those activities and duties related to the EU and FAO Reference Laboratory for ASF.

• West Nile fever and other arboviroses: pathogenicity studies through experimental infections in birds and mice and studies on the spread and evolution of these viruses in Spain.

COVID-19: infection incidence studies in animals and humans, molecular characterization of viral strains and development and evaluation of diagnostic assays.

• Development, evaluation and validation of new diagnostic techniques: for emerging viral diseases of high risk for our production sectors.

• International cooperation: diagnostic technology transfer, scientific-technical assistance, laboratory contingency plans and organization of interlaboratory assays and training courses.



African swine fever (ASF) is a complex and devastating viral disease, for which there is no vaccine. It affects domestic pigs, wild boars and African suids, causing up to 95-100% mortality. Many countries in Africa, Asia and Europe are affected. ASF is currently the most important health and economic problem of the pig sector worldwide.

In addition to the activities of the International Reference Laboratories of the EU and FAO (, the main research topics of the ASF group are:

- Transmission studies in animals, to determine the role of carriers in disease maintenance and spread in the EU

- The development of new diagnostic tests and adaptation of diagnostic assays to alternative clinical samples. Development of new tools allowing an early detection of infected animals.

- Biological and molecular characterization studies of circulating isolates in the EU and worldwide.

- In vivo experimental studies using different viral isolates to reproduce the disease and evaluate the clinical outcome.

- Genomic and transcriptomic studies. Identification of virulence markers and new genetic regions that allow for the molecular evolution tracing of the virus. Evaluation of the role of surviving animals in disease epidemiology.

- Vaccine development using different strategies with attenuated viruses and differential DIVA diagnostic methods.

- Adaptation studies to replicate the virus in established cell lines.


West Nile virus (WNV) causes a severe neuroinvasive disease in equids, birds and humans. It is an emerging disease whose incidence and geographical spread has dramatically increased in recent times, with severe impact in animal and human health.

Other viruses transmitted by arthropod vectors (arboviruses) such as Usutu, Crimean Congo, Bagaza, etc. are emerging in different parts of the world in a process that is linked to global change.

The main research topics are:

- In vivo pathogenicity studies with different WNV strains in avian hosts. Evaluation of host/pathogen interactions, cross-protection evaluation and transmission routes.

- Análisis de la dispersión y evolución de WNV y otros flavivirus en nuestro país mediante estudios serológicos y de epidemiología molecular. 

- Spread and evolution analysis of WNV and other flaviviruses in our country using serological and molecular epidemiology studies.

- Development of tools to improve detection and control of these diseases in collaboration with human virology, entomology, public health and ecology groups using a “One Health” approach.


- Incidence studies in humans and animals

- Molecular characterization of circulating viral strains.

- Evaluation and improvement of diagnostic techniques in humans and animals.


To fight against emerging diseases it is essential to have effective and reliable diagnostic techniques that are available as soon as possible. Our group has a wide expertise in developing diagnostic methods for pathogens with severe impact in livestock and public health. We collaborate with other research groups, institutions, sanitary bodies and companies, adapting to the sector needs and considering the epidemiological scenario, with the final objective of transferring the developed technology.

Our activities include the development, evaluation and validation of:

- Molecular diagnostic techniques using PCR.

- Serological diagnostic techniques such as ELISAs, indirect immunofluorescence, immunochromatography and seroneutralization assays.

- Detection and characterization tools based on microarrays technology or nanopore massive sequencing, extremely useful for rapid diagnosis of a sanitary emergency of unknown viral aetiology.


We undertake an intense technology transfer and cooperation activity with more than 60 countries from all continents by means of training courses, scientific-technical assistance, laboratory contingency plans and interlaboratory assays. This mission is carried out through the EU and FAO Reference Laboratory for ASF and through the EU financed project MediLabSecure ( that promotes a “One Health” approach to facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration in 22 countries of the Mediterranean, Black sea and Sahel regions.

EURL y FAO RL 2020


Coordinador de Grupo

Our group in the media

- EFE verde (28-9-20). “El coronavirus ¿la puntilla para cerrar las granjas de visones?”.

- (23-9-20). “La facilidad con la que los visones se contagian de coronavirus podría ayudar a un reclamo ecologista de décadas”.

- Carne Cruda Radio (8-9-20). Sección de noticias cortas. “Preguntas sobre el virus West Nile”.

- El País Semanal (6-9-20). “¿Qué nos estamos comiendo?”

- Voz Pópuli (2-9-20). “Primera prueba de que los visones transmiten la COVID a los humanos”

- El País (21-8-20). “Un estudio alerta de la alta capacidad de transmisión de patógenos en mercados de animales vivos”.

- Diario Veterinario (5-6-20). “Los veterinarios serán los encargados de desarrollar modelos animales para evaluar la eficiencia de las vacunas y tratamientos contra el coronavirus”.

- Animal’s Health (27-5-20). “Lo que se sabe hasta ahora del coronavirus Covid-19 en animales”

- El País (20-5-20). “Científicos holandeses alertan del posible primer salto conocido del coronavirus de animales a humanos en una granja de visones”

- El País (24-9-2018). “La UE sufre el peor brote de la fiebre del Nilo, que ya ha causado 85 muertes”

- El País (28-2-2018). “A la caza del virus desconocido que amenaza a la humanidad”

- (23-2-2018). “Los científicos se lanzan a la búsqueda de los 1,6 millones de virus desconocidos que amenazan a la humanidad”

- Radio Nacional de España. (12-7-2017). J.A. López Guerrero entrevista a Miguel Ángel Jiménez Clavero en su programa “Entre probetas”.

- Radio Nacional de España. (20-5-2015). Miguel Ángel Domínguez entrevista a Miguel Ángel Jiménez Clavero en el espacio “Ciencia” dentro del programa “24 horas”

- Radio Nacional de España. (21-7-2012) “Los virus emergentes”. Manuel Seara entrevista a Miguel Ángel Jiménez Clavero en su programa “A hombros de gigantes”

Participation in expert groups during COVID-19 emergency

- Experts Committee of the “COVID-19 surveillance and early detection program” of Madrid City Council.

- Laboratory Support to the Public Health Response for COVID-19. Testing of human diagnostic specimens in veterinary laboratories.

Book and book chapters

- Sánchez-Vizcaíno JM, Laddomada A, Arias M. (2019). African swine fever. In: Diseases of Swine. Zimmerman, Karriker, Ramírez, Schwartz, Stevenson, Zhang Eds. Wiley Blackwell &Sons Inc. 11th Edition. 443-IBSN 978-1-11935-085-9.

- Beltrán-Alcrudo D, Arias M, Gallardo C, Kramer S, Penrith M.L. (2020). Detección y diagnóstico de la peste porcina africana – Manual para veterinarios. FAO producción y sanidad animal. Manual No 19. Roma, FAO.

- Pérez-Ramírez E, Moreno Martín A, Jiménez-Clavero MA, Fernández-Pinero J. (2019). Virus de la gripe aviar. En: Los virus de la gripe, pandemias, epidemias y vacunas. Ortiz de Lejarazu Leonardo, R. (Ed.); Amazing Books.

- Cano-Gómez C, Jiménez-Clavero M.A. (2016). Porcine teschovirus (Teschen-Talfan disease). En: Molecular detection of animal viral pathogens, D. Liu (Ed.); CRC Press, Boca Ratón, FL. EE.UU.

- Fernández-Pinero J, Pezzoni G, Cano-Gómez C, Fernández-Pacheco P, Brocchi E, Jiménez-Clavero M.A. (2016). Swine vesicular disease virus. En: Molecular detection of animal viral pathogens, D. Liu (Ed.). CRC Press, Boca Ratón, FL. EE.UU.

- Cano-Gómez C, Fernández-Pacheco P, Jiménez-Clavero M.A. (2014). Swine vesicular disease virus. En: Manual of security sensitive microbes and toxins. D. Liu (Ed.). CRC Press, Boca Ratón, FL. EE.UU.

Blogs y social networks

- Blog “Virus emergentes y cambio global”:

- Twitter

@virusemergentes (Miguel Ángel Jiménez Clavero)

@bureli (Elisa Pérez Ramírez)

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