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

Joint Laboratory of Veterinary Microbiology

Frederik Widén, National Veterinary Institute, Sweden SVA

Established by Harbin Veterinary Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China (HVRI/CAAS) and the National Veterinary Institute, Sweden (SVA)

 China and Sweden; two countries wide apart; moreover, the difference in production of pigs is enormous. Can we really learn anything from each other? The answer is:

Yes we can! We have realized that we have a common interest in controlling animal diseases like, for example, Classical Swine Fever. Since we have a common interest, the difference actually increases the chances that we will learn something useful from each other. Therefore, two partners of the EU-China collaborative LinkTADs project, i.e. two veterinary institutes, Harbin Veterinary Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China (HVRI/CAAS) and the National Veterinary Institute, Sweden (SVA) have formed a Joint Laboratory of Veterinary Microbiology.

How did it start? Actually Professor Hua-Ji Qiu from HVRI visited SVA even before the LinkTAD project started. The idea of forming a joint laboratory originated due to the fact that both partners share an interest in the research regarding Classical Swine Fever, a devastating disease with severe economical and animal health consequences.

The establishment of the LinkTADs project acted as a catalyst for the collaboration and finally the directors of the two institutions signed the agreement thereby formalising and strengthening the collaboration. This was formally the final step but in practice it was more like the start of a fruitful collaboration.

What can we do together? Our idea is that the aim of the Joint Laboratory is to enhance the control of animal diseases, the diagnostic capabilities and increase the knowledge on infectious animal diseases through the following activities:

  • stimulating research collaboration on selected topics,
  • incentives to jointly apply for projects from China and Sweden or the EU, and
  • exchanging personnel as well as disease information and test protocols for diagnostic assays.

For this reason Dr. Lihong Liu from SVA visited HVRI on several occasions to discuss different aspects of the work and to perform laboratory experiments. Furthermore, Dr. Luo from HVRI visited SVA and evaluated diagnostic assays for Classical Swine Fever and African Swine Fever.

Where do we go in the future? 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, and thereby improve the research on important animal diseases. Such collaboration is of great importance to secure the food supply and protect animal health. More information will follow on LinkTADs website.

Our impression of the joint laboratory activities so far is very positive and although our respective countries are very far apart, we feel our laboratories and staff are getting closer and closer.