In coherence with WOAH recommendations and the importance of spreading new perspectives of “One health approach”, STOR – REMESA organized its fourth webinar on September 12th, 2023. The webinar was entitled in “BLUE TONGUE AND EPIZOOTIC HEMORRHAGIC DISEASES: current epidemiologic scenarios and prevention innovations”.

150 participants have been registered to attend the webinar, and most of them were researchers from Mediterranean countries. The event started with a warm welcome by Dr. Cristina Casalone, Scientific Director of the STOR office, Dr. Rachid Bouguedour and Dr. Mohammed Bengoumi “WOAH –
FAO REMESA secretariat in Tunisia”, and moderated by Dr. Montserrat Agüero and Dr. Hafsa Madani.

The webinar includes a series of lectures/presentations, presented by leading experts in the field, and discusses the current epidemiological scenario of the 2 diseases in Africa and Europe, with a
special focus on the difference between the two pathologies; how vectors spread infection in livestock and wildlife; and updates and innovations regarding diagnostic methods and procedures of prevention and control.

Adding to the discussion on the differences between the two viruses, it is important to note that despite many overlapping characteristics, ranging from virus structure to pathogenesis, and even the common insect vectors that transmit the viruses (C. Imicola, Obsoletus Complex, Pulicaris Complex), there are also several significant distinctions that impact their identification and the different approaches to prophylaxis and surveillance. Both viruses affect domestic and wild ruminants, but sheep are more susceptible to BT, while EHD primarily affects cattle and wild ruminants. Another noteworthy difference is that BT comprises 24 traditional serotypes and 13 atypical ones, whereas EHD has only seven classic serotypes; this distinction influences prophylactic efforts, as live attenuated and inactivated vaccines are available for BT, while the latter has not yet been developed for EHD. Additionally, both diseases are classified as “listed diseases,” but BT falls under the categories C+D+E, whereas EHD is only listed as D+E.

The webinar is part of a long-term timetable of STOR activities that includes a series of webinars, workshops, and training courses scheduled throughout the year in order to achieve the final objectives of the STOR: strengthening the REMESA scientific network for exchange and connection between countries of North Africa and South Europe, share common standards, establish common guidelines for preventing, monitoring and control of the emerging veterinary risks among REMESA member countries.

Vector-borne viral diseases, infectious, non-contagious, of wild and domestic ruminants: Current epidemiologic scenarios, differences, and prevention innovations.

Blue Tongue (BT) and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD); both are vector-borne diseases (Culicoides) caused by viruses belonging to the family Reoviridae, genus Orbivirus, and have immunological cross reactivity. They are considered as significantly important pathologies due to their health and economic impacts on livestock globally, as well as in Mediterranean countries. Both diseases are listed in the WOAH Terrestrial Animal Health as Notifiable diseases. Both diseases have no public health risk and “No Zoonotic importance”.

BT affects sheep, goats, cattle, and wild ruminants. Clinically, infected sheep show severe hemorrhagic symptoms, while in cattle, infection occurs in a mild form. On the other hand, and apart from wild animals, EHD causes severe clinical symptoms in cows, and infection in sheep and goats is usually subclinical.

Animal movement and global warming strongly contribute to the spread of these diseases (the viruses are maintained in areas where the climate will allow biting midges to survive over winter), threatening the Mediterranean basin and Europe, where competent vectors are present. Given the unpredictability of virus introduction, there is an urgent need to fill the scientific gaps by developing large regional research programs to build efficient predictive models and to implement early warning systems and sustainable surveillance systems for Northern African countries.

This webinar aims to provide an update on the current epidemiological status of the diseases, with a special focus on the differences between the two pathologies and how vectors spread infection in livestock and wildlife. Participants will stand upon the news and innovations regarding recent diagnostic methods and procedures for the prevention and control of these diseases. At last, this webinar aims to increase the awareness of participants to fulfill the One Health concept.

Click here to download the PDF program

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