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Animal health and veterinary public health

The main areas of research in animal health and veterinary public health are determined by the need for research as defined in the Swiss Animal Health Strategy 2010+ and the Animal project within the Strategy for Antibiotic Resistance (StAR). The focus here is on animal diseases and zoonoses that are being fought internationally and on economically relevant diseases of infectious origin. In addition, newly emerging and recurrent animal diseases are increasingly coming to the fore as a result of climate change, greater migration and increasing global travel and commerce.

The central questions are those relating to the early identification and prevention of diseases, supplemented by analysis of the cost-effectiveness of prevention, control and eradication measures. Research focuses on activities such as feeding, husbandry and management systems that enable the use of antibiotics to be reduced. Economically significant diseases of infectious origin in livestock are investigated in coordination and cooperation with other institutions, particularly agricultural bodies. Knowledge of the biology of micro-organisms and the interaction between host, pathogen and vector is needed to enable the prevention, monitoring and eradication of animal diseases to be tackled effectively and efficiently. For this reason, the generation of fundamental findings concerning the emergence, development and spread of communicable diseases is a permanent focus of interest.

 

Prevention of animal diseases and zoonoses

  • Measures to prevent the introduction of pathogens into herds;
  • Implementation of biosafety measures on the farm / Good Farming Practice;
  • Methods to boost and quantify disease awareness;
  • New technological tools relating to vaccines and the diagnosis of communicable diseases that are within the remit of the FSVO but are a niche aspect on an international scale (e.g. vaccines that nobody else is developing because they are of no commercial interest);
  • Research into the role and reservoir function of wild animals;
  • Animal by-products: methods and risk assessments of pathogen inactivation, biosafety of biofermentation on farms;
  • Measurement of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of preventive measures;
  • Generation of knowledge about latent zoonotic pathogens in livestock that also occur in plants used for human and animal nutrition; Creation of strain collections with adequately characterised strains (virulence and genotyping).

 

Monitoring and surveillance systems

  • Early warning systems: efficient tools for the early detection of newly emerging and recurring animal diseases and zoonoses;
  • Research into and development of tools for syndrome monitoring;
  • Refinement and further development of methods for monitoring programmes to further increase sensitivity and cost efficiency;
  • Research into associations between findings recorded during examination of (live) slaughter animals, meat inspections and herd problems.

 

Combating and controlling animal diseases and zoonoses

  • Modelling of disease and zoonosis outbreaks with various control strategies, taking various technological methods into account;
  • Development of sensitive, specific and low-cost diagnostics for monitoring, control and eradication programmes;
  • Cost-benefit analysis of eradication programmes, particularly those relating to economically significant diseases of infectious origin;
  • Cost-benefit analyses of measures, interventions and eradication programmes to improve the safety of food of animal origin;
  • Strategies and measures to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock, in particular recording and analysis of antibiotic volume flows and analysis of the correlations between antibiotic use and the resistance situation/resistance development, and improvement of calf health;
  • Attention to regional and national comparability issues.