The epidemiology group of Wageningen Bioveterinary Research studies the prevention, spread and control of infectious animal diseases. Characteristic of this research is the development and application of quantitative methods.
Fields of expertise within the epidemiology group
- Development of epidemiological models
- Evaluation of control strategies
- Design and analysis of transmission experiments
- Evaluation of diagnostic tests
- Design of surveillance systems
- Risk analysis
Any discussion on how to control an ongoing or future animal disease outbreak involves several alternative control measures that can be taken. These measures range from banning animal transports in a specific geographical area to emergency vaccination.
But what exactly is the effect of a proposed measure? To which extent can it prevent the further spread of the infection? What are the most important pre-conditions for and risks of application of the measure? The epidemiology group specialises in research that gives – scientific and independent - answers to these types of policy-related questions, focussing on livestock diseases and zoonoses.
The researchers are specialized in interdisciplinary approaches to address the scientific questions, with due attention to good communication with the policy makers throughout the research process. More fundamental research projects, analyses of previous outbreaks, international cooperation and close ties with people actively participating in campaigns to control outbreaks are all elements that help the group to achieve high standards of quality in its work.
To gain insight into the introduction and spread of important animal diseases and the effects of control measures, the group uses mathematical models and performs risk analyses, experimental transmission studies and field studies. In addition, statistical analysis plays an important role in all of these activities. The development of mathematical models enables researchers to extrapolate to new scenarios, e.g. to draw conclusions about the effect of newly developed measures against disease spread, or the application of a new vaccine or diagnostic test. As a result, policy makers can make scientifically informed choices about the implementation of such measures. In this way Wageningen Bioveterinary Research makes an important contribution to the effective prevention and control of animal diseases.
For the government, epidemiology is an important aspect in the development of animal disease policy. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research provides animal disease authorities at both national and European level with new scientific results that support risk management and animal disease control. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is an important authority commissioning research at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research to inform their policy-making with science.
The epidemiology group of Wageningen Bioveterinary Research uses its expertise in population biology, epidemiology, veterinary medicine, mathematics, and statistics in projects that are often multidisciplinary in nature. Together with other scientific disciplines within Wageningen University & Research and beyond, this approach enables the group to make integral recommendations about animal disease control which also takes societal acceptability and economic aspects into account.
The research results are published in scientific reports and international publications.