Linking Epidemiology and Laboratory Research on Transboundary Animal Diseases and Zoonoses in EU and China

27 February 2015 — LinkTADs Newsletter no. 2



We are happy to present the second issue of LinkTADs newsletter. Its intention is to highlight the main achievements over the past six months, such as major project events, exchanges, future collaboration plans in the field of animal health in the EU and China, as well as our online visibility progress among relevant projects and initiatives. If you would like to find out more about any activity or how your institution could benefit from LinkTADs services, please feel free to contact us at

After one and a half years, we are pleased to see that LinkTADs is very much on track regarding our objectives. We can already see some remarkable results, coming not just from the collaboration between the different partners of the consortium, but also due to interactions with other research consortia and third parties.

Highlights since our last newsletter include:

  • workshops on vaccine and diagnostic technology development, and on African swine fever policy,
  • the organization of our first two webinars (on disease outbreak investigation and on surveillance for antimicrobial resistance),
  • a fully operational website,
  • active social media dissemination mechanisms, and
  • a number of physical exchanges and visits between partners.

We would like to stress that LinkTADs is not there just to benefit those institutions belonging to the consortium. Our overall goal is to improve joint research on animal health between China and EU by highlighting gaps; coordinating, guiding and putting in touch institutions; and facilitating the exchange of information on priority fields via meetings, webinars, exchanges, study tours and our website.

There are a number of services that we offer free of charge to anyone who works in the field of animal health, who would like to start collaborating either with Chinese or with EU institutions.

Organization name Country
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Italy
Europa Media Non-profit Ltd. (EM) Hungary
Royal Veterinary College (RVC) UK
Centre de Coopération Internationale enRecherché Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) France
National Veterinary Institute of Sweden(Staten Veterinäermedicinska Anstalt) (SVA) Sweden
Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute (SHVRI) China
Harbin Veterinary Research Institute (HVRI) China
China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center (CAHEC) China
Beijing Chinese Center for Disease Controland Prevention (CADC) China
Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovaçao (SPI) Portugal
Huazhong Agricultural University (HZAU) China

Examples of how you could benefit include access to information on the most suitable funding mechanisms for registered users (search based on eligible countries, activities funded and grant types), attendance of dissemination events (both face-to-face and webinars), access to information (through our website, newsletter, blogs, etc), help in identifying potential partners in your research area, etc.

The topics and dates of future webinars are still to be decided and will be advertised in due time on LinkTADs website and through email distribution lists. The topics can potentially cover a wide range of epidemiology and laboratory aspects on priority diseases and the selection of the definitive topics will be based on demand. Therefore, please feel free to contact us with your suggestions.




linktads rank linktads visits

LinkTADs on Facebook: all you need to know about animal health and epidemiology in a less formal and more visual way;

LinkTADs on LinkedIn: with more than 700 connections and wide outreach, LinkTADs project brings the latest news and contributes to expert discussions on animal health and disease control, epidemiology and laboratory work as well as on relevant cooperation between the EU and China;

LinkTADs LinkedIn discussion group currently includes 88 members;

LinkTADs on Twitter: more than 400 informative tweets on everything you need to know about TADs and zoonoses;

LinkTADs on weibo: updates for everyone interested in animal health cooperation in China.

You have a chance to win a selection of FAO manuals for being part of LinkTADs community! Join any of our networks, post an update or start a discussion and if your discussion gets the most likes/comments by the end of March, you will receive a selection of FAO manuals by post!


  • LinkTADs website launched in February 2014
  • Upgraded to LinkTADs platform in October 2014
  • Visitors from 113 countries
  • 1,457 users (visitors) in total
  • 89 registered users on the platform
linktads account

Platform features:

  • Linking to social media
    You can share most of the LinkTADs content on your social page via a special share tool;
  • Discussions on LinkTADs EPI-LAB Community
    Registered users can start discussions in the Member Area
  • Blog and comments
    LinkTADs researchers publish popular blogs regularly; the blog posts are open for public comments too and based on the web site statistics they especially attract attention of international audience;
  • Messaging
    Registered users (international researchers, scientists and experts) can directly exchange messages;
  • Document upload and download
    Experts can upload their reports, articles and reviews in the field of animal health to the e-Resources section
  • Search functions
    You can search for documents in the e-Resources section;
    You can search for partners from our database of organizations;
    You can search for funding available to international researchers working in the animal health field in the EU or China using a specially developed search tool.



linktads progress meeting


To ensure the coordination of the project, progress meetings are organized on a yearly basis, where all partners have the chance to (i) review interim results; (ii) facilitate the monitoring of the project, assess the status of each work package and decide on corrective actions if needed; (iii) reinforce interactions; (iv) discuss future activities; and (v) discuss administrative and financial aspects of the project.

The First Progress Meeting and WP4 2nd workshop of FP7 LinkTADs project was held in Shanghai from 15th to 17th October 2014. Co-organized by Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute and FAO, the 2-day meeting aimed at reviewing the achievements for the past year and defining the plans for the future.

All objectives were successfully achieved. Overall, after one year, the project is on the right track, with all major milestones and deliverables being achieved, and no major issues or obstacles identified. 

The specific objectives of the meeting were:

  • to validate the monitored work plan for month 7 to month 12; 
  • to agree on the work plan for month 13 to month 18;  and
  • to decide on the events to be organized in the coming 12 months, including the dates, venues and potential back-to-back meetings that could be combined with in order to maximize attendance and impact.

The Second Progress Meeting will be hosted by FAO IAEA in Vienna, Austria, in October 2015.


linktads workshop


Fourteen delegates, including four invited speakers from Europe outside the consortium, presented their research progress, covering the following diseases:

  • Transboundary animal diseases (TADs): African swine fever (ASF), pseudorabies, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), blue tongue disease and vector-borne diseases. to prioritize the list of the diseases;
  • Zoonoses: rabies, Japanese encephalitis, brucellosis and tuberculosis.

As one of the WP4 tasks, the LinkTADs WP4 2nd Workshop on Vaccine and Diagnostic Technology Development on Transboundary Animal Diseases and Zoonoses jointly organized by FAO, HVRI and SHVRI was held in Shanghai on October 17, 2014. The main objective of the workshop was to strengthen the collaboration among partners on diagnostic technologies and vaccine development in EU and China, with special emphasis on the linkage between epidemiology and laboratory research in the prevention and control of important animal diseases and zoonoses for both EU and China.

45 participants including scientists, experts and students from 19 institutions from China and Europe attended the one-day workshop.

Workshop summary can be found here:


Organized by FAO, the event was aimed at improving preparedness for African swine fever (ASF), a deadly disease affecting pigs. Forty experts from the EU and Asia met in Beijing on 17 November to explore how lessons learned in Europe on fighting ASF could be applied to Asia, to identify the main policy gaps in East and Southeast Asia and ultimately to develop a set of recommendations and a follow-up strategy for ASF policy in the region.

The ASF situation has considerably worsened over the past years, with the disease continuing to spread in traditionally endemic sub-Saharan Africa. Now with a new front opening up along the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, ASF is expanding into historically free countries. The risk of ASF entering Asia is the highest ever, and China is of particular concern since the country houses almost half of the worldwide pig population. China is the biggest importer of pork and over the past few years has developed very strong links with ASF-infected countries in Africa. China also shares a border with the ASF-endemic Russian Federation. Since China and Asia in general have never encountered ASF the region is ill-prepared for an eventual incursion of ASF in terms of policy and capacity. Therefore, an ASF epidemic in the region would have catastrophic effects on global pork supply and protein availability.

linktads asf

To address the policy gap and build ASF preparedness, LinkTADs brought together:

  1. Policy makers from China;
  2. Veterinary Services from Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam;
  3. ASF epidemiology and diagnosis experts from the EU, FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and;
  4. Representatives from the EU and the United States of America.

Policy challenges highlighted during the round table discussions included: i) the lack of ASF-specific contingency plans (and other animal health plans) in most countries; ii) the challenges presented by the large proportion of backyard pig production; iii) the lack of knowledge and health management related to wild boar populations; iv) the region’s porous borders that would hardly prevent ASF from spreading; and v) the diagnostic dilemma: how to detect ASF in a region with many similar-looking and endemic swine diseases (e.g. classical swine fever).

Participants endorsed 11 cross-cutting recommendations for immediate action to build preparedness and improve ASF policy making. These recommendations included increasing communication and awareness conducting risk assessments, ensuring training, assessing policies, addressing backyard, low-biosecurity and wild boar issues, linking with other swine disease efforts, collaborating with forestry authorities and hunters and mobilizing additional resources.


As part of LinkTADs, FAO will organize a series of webinars (i.e. interactive online seminars) in collaboration with LinkTADs partners and other experts. The use of this dissemination tool will ensure a wide coverage of stakeholders in China and the European Union (EU), especially those who cannot physically participate in the project workshops. At least three webinars will be organized during the course of the project.

These webinars provide a perfect platform for the EU and Chinese researchers and officers in the field to find out more about current developments, network with other researchers and share research interests. This modern dissemination tool is also very cost-effective for communication and everyone with an interest in the topic is welcome to attend. Participants can interact with the presenter, asking and answering questions and making comments. Participants can also access the webinar presentations online afterwards.

1st Webinar - Disease Outbreak investigation

On 9 October 2014, Dr. Chris Bartels from the European Commission for the control of Foot-and-Mouth disease (EuFMD) delivered the first webinar of the series: a 1.5-hour presentation entitled Disease Outbreak Investigation: more than “take a sample and run” with focus on China’s situation. The webinar was co-organized by FAO Headquarters in Rome and FAO China in Beijing, and facilitated by Prof John Edwards, Senior Coordinator of FAO ECTAD China. The presentation is available on the LinkTADs website. The presentation covered all aspects related to DOI, including what steps to take and how to perform these steps, and the relation between outbreak investigation and Progressive Control Pathway (PCP) stages for FMD (stages 1-3). A total of 22 participants attended the webinar. Among them -  LinkTADs partners from HVRI, CAHEC. CADC,and CIRAD, as well as external participants such as Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Veterinary Bureau of Ministry of Agriculture of China (MoA), and FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The webinar was found very practical and useful, and was highly valued by participants.

2nd Webinar - Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance

The importance and increase in the use of antibiotics has led to the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), raising huge concerns worldwide due to its public and animal health implications. In response, on 5 February 2015 LinkTADs co-organized a 1.5-hour webinar with another FP7 project, EFFORT, on the Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance. Participants included stakeholders involved in the design and implementation of AMR surveillance programmes, researchers, veterinary services and policy makers in Asia. Two presenters covered different aspects related to AMR. Although the focus of the webinar was China, participants represented a broad range of additional countries, including Canada, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Dr Jaap Wagenaar from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, presented the ecosystems of AMR, dynamics, transfer and monitoring at the bacterial level, pointing out the importance of integrated surveillance systems. He also presented  two methods for evaluating resistance and highlighted the importance of reducing the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance by using the example of commensal E. coli. The second topic on monitoring of antimicrobial consumption in animals was presented by Jeroen Dewulf from Ghent University, Belgium. He addressed various needs for monitoring antimicrobial consumption and different points where those measures could be taken at national level. He highlighted limitations in the quantification and comparison of consumption levels. After the presentations, the general discussions with participants focused on the effect of residues in the environment and how this should be included into surveillance systems, monitoring antimicrobial consumption and different points where those measures could be taken at national level.


LinkTADs WP7 has the following objectives:

  • To prepare and organize series of exchanges including short-term visits and laboratory works, and training programmes between European and Chinese research organisations (in both directions);
  • To raise the awareness of the cooperation opportunities on animal health and food security research, identify and encourage joint research interests on specific topics in the field between European and Chinese researchers;
  • To enhance existing collaboration and encourage new partnerships.

The first exchange programme was carried out by HVRI and SVA in June 24-30, 2014 and 18-31 October, 2014. Two researchers visited each other’s institutions, evaluated their newly-developed diagnostic methods, exchanged the knowledge on the development of novel diagnosis and discussed the future collaboration. The implementation of this exchange programme strengthened the partnership and enhanced the collaboration between HVRI and SVA on swine infectious diseases.

As a main outcome of this exchange programme, a joint laboratory of veterinary microbiology was set up by HRVI and SVA, which would serve as a platform beneficial to LinkTADs implementation as well as the future EU-China collaboration.

Further collaborative projects and exchanges are planned in the nearest future. The Joint Laboratory will act as a platform to enhance the links between China and EU/Sweden. Such collaboration is of great importance to secure the food supply and protect animal health.

In order to convey the information about the main achievements of the cooperation between partner institutions within the WP7, LinkTADs researchers wrote a series of blog posts, which can be found on the website:

Summary of the short-term academic visit to the Royal Veterinary College written by Dr. Kang Jingli from CAHEC, where she underlined the following main achievements of the visit:

  • Enhanced knowledge about epidemiology systems, main surveillance and investigation tasks on the national level in the United Kingdom;
  • Familiarity with advanced research areas, topics, and current programs in RVC;
  • Practical review of animal disease surveillance technical methodology used in field practices.

Dr. Yuzi Luo’s visit to the National Veterinary Institute of Sweden, October, 2014 written by HVRI, which included the following activities:

  • Inter-laboratory evaluation of the Erns-ELISA/E2-ELISA for classical swine fever virus (CSFV) and the PCR for African swine fever virus (AFSV);
  • Training in metagenomics and Luminex technologies;
  • Exchange in some cutting-edge diagnostic technologies;
  • Learning the SOPs in diagnosis and epidemiology from SVA OIE laboratories;
  • Presentation of the recent research progress in pseudorabies virus and CSFV at HVRI.

Joint Laboratory of Veterinary Microbiology established by Harbin Veterinary Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China (HVRI/CAAS) and the National Veterinary Institute, Sweden (SVA).


Over the course of the first year and a half of its duration, LinkTADs has interacted with several other initiatives, mostly with projects funded under FP7.

ASFORCE is an FP7 project that started in 2012 in response to the threat of African swine fever (ASF) entry into the EU, posed by its spreading in Eastern Europe. During one of the first exercises within LinkTADs, which aimed to prioritize the emerging animal health and zoonotic interests of both China and the EU, ASF ranked first both in EU and China, and both in terms of laboratory and epidemiology research. Some examples of the ASFORCE-LinkTADs collaboration include:

  • ASFORCE speakers were invited to LinkTADs events, including 1) the WP4 2nd workshop (17 October 2014) in Shanghai. Both Dr. Linda Dixon (the Pirbright Institute) and Professor José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaino (Universidad Complutense of Madrid) delivered talks on different ASF aspects; and 2) the WP5 1st workshop (17 November 2014) - ASF Policy Event – Lessons learnt from Europe and policy challenges for Asia, where Professor Sánchez-Vizcaino presented on the main policy issues in EU.
  • ASFORCE fact sheets/leaflets on ASF and how to prevent and control it were translated into Chinese and distributed at relevant meetings;
  • ASFORCE poster/chrono was exhibited at two above meetings in China;
  • ASFORCE was been presented at LinkTADs meetings, while LinkTADs was presented at ASFORCE full consortium meeting;
  • ASFORCE link and logo are included on the LinkTADs website and vice versa;

EFFORT studies the complex epidemiology and ecology of AMR. Together with LinkTADs, a webinar was organized on 5 February 2015 the Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance with Dr Jaap Wagenaar, from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, Dr Jeroen Dewulf from Ghent University, Belgium, as speakers.

Similarly, a webinar was organized together with the European Commission for the control of Foot-and-Mouth disease (EuFMD). Dr. Chris Bartels delivered a 1.5-hour presentation entitled Disease Outbreak Investigation: more than “take a sample and run” with focus on China’s situation.

RISKSUR The overall aim of RISKSUR is to develop and validate conceptual and decision support frameworks and associated tools for designing efficient risk-based animal health surveillance systems. RISKSUR is to organise a one-day symposium themed “Animal Health Surveillance 2.0”. The event will take place 24 March 2015 at Het Pand Convention Centre in Ghent, Belgium, in conjugation with the annual meeting of the Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (SVEPM 2015). Several LinkTADs partners will participate in these RISKSUR events, including the project final conference next October.

  • April 9th-10th 2015, LinkTADs WP3 2nd workshop
  • May 4, 2015, LinkTADs WP5 Webinar
  • July, 2015 WP4 3rd workshop
  • October 13th-16th 2015, WP4 4th Workshop and 2nd Progress Meeting in Vienna
LinkTADs Calendar
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LinkTADs This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No: 613804