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Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Our group works on the diagnosis and epidemiology of emerging diseases, of zoonotic or economically relevant diseases and, in antimicrobial resistances in the environment.

Grupo de investigación dependiente del

​​Animal Health Research Center

Our research focuses on the study of health problems at the livestock / environment / wildlife interface, from a “One Health” perspective: ​

Spatiotemporal and conventional epidemiology of animal diseases.

Detection and characterization of zoonotic and / or emerging pathogens.

Antimicrobial resistance in the environment and wildlife.

We develop diagnostic methods and analyse epidemiological scenarios to improve and focus animal disease surveillance and control plans and antimicrobial resistance (risk assessment, early warning systems, identification of disease dynamics). Our close collaboration with national and European health institutions and the livestock sectors, has favoured that many of our advances in research had been transferred and employed to improve the knowledge and implement tools for the fight against animal diseases.


Epidemiology of animal diseases

Our group works on the epidemiology of emerging diseases such as African swine fever and avian influenza and, zoonotic diseases such as Salmonella. Specifically, we analyse the evolution of diseases in space and time; their risk of introduction and spreading at national or EU level; identify the main risk factors and; evaluate the role of biological hosts and vectors that could transmit the pathogen. The results of our work have been used to improve disease control plans and surveillance systems. An example of this is the early warning system of avian influenza introduction, DiFLUsion, which has been developed for the Ministry of Agriculture.

We have developed epidemiological tool available on line as the database for African Swine Fever (ASF) notifications in the EU (link aplicación), the cartographic map of wild boar distribution in Eurasia (link mapa) and the soil vulnerability for antibiotic contamination (link mapa).

Detection and characterization of zoonotic, emerging pathogens and / or biodiversity-affecting pathogens at the livestock-environment-wildlife interface.

Our group works in baseline studies of the sanitary status and in the detection of mortality / morbidity events of urban, peri-urban and wild fauna. The activities cover the design of the study and sampling, the detection and molecular characterization of the pathogens and the identification of the risk factors. For this, we develop molecular techniques: "universal" techniques for the identification of new infectious agents, and specific for specific pathogens.

 Antimicrobial resistances in the environmental

Our group is working on the development of low-cost, high-sensitivity alternative methods, without prior culture, for the direct detection and quantification of antimicrobial resistance genes in environmental samples and wild species: real-time PCR in gelified format (video link?). This technique is being applied to screen exposure levels and evaluate different risk scenarios, both productive and environmental, in collaboration with numerous institutions from different countries (USA, Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, etc.). Methodologies are being developed to study the diversity and characterization of plasmids by nanopore sequencing.

We are focused in the development of useful tools to be applied on "diagnosis" and the identification of factors of persistence and dissemination of resistance in microbial communities, in order to improve surveillance and control programs.

Likewise, this line integrates the identification of exposure scenarios to antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance in intensive and extensive livestock farming and, the risk analysis of veterinary medicines (antibiotics) to evaluate their safety for environmental organisms. This is a mandatory requirement for marketing authorization for veterinary medicinal products in Europe.


Epidemiology and Environmental Health Members

Coordinador de Grupo

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