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Woudstra C.,French Agency for Food | Tevell Aberg A.,National Veterinary Institute SVA | Skarin H.,National Veterinary Institute SVA | Skarin H.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | And 8 more authors.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism | Year: 2013

Botulism disease in both humans and animals is a worldwide concern. Botulinum neurotoxins produced by Clostridium botulinum and other Clostridium species are the most potent biological substances known and are responsible for flaccid paralysis leading to a high mortality rate. Clostridium botulinum and botulinum neurotoxins are considered potential weapons for bioterrorism and have been included in the Australia Group List of Biological Agents. In 2010 the European Commission (DG Justice, Freedom and Security) funded a 3-year project named AniBioThreat to improve the EU's capacity to counter animal bioterrorism threats. A detection portfolio with screening methods for botulism agents and incidents was needed to improve tracking and tracing of accidental and deliberate contamination of the feed and food chain with botulinum neurotoxins and other Clostridia. The complexity of this threat required acquiring new genetic information to better understand the diversity of these Clostridia and develop detection methods targeting both highly specific genetic markers of these Clostridia and the neurotoxins they are able to produce. Several European institutes participating in the AniBioThreat project collaborated on this program to achieve these objectives. Their scientific developments are discussed here. © 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Skarin H.,National Veterinary Institute SVA | Skarin H.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Tevell Aberg A.,National Veterinary Institute SVA | Woudstra C.,French Agency for Food | And 8 more authors.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism | Year: 2013

A workshop on animal botulism was held in Uppsala, Sweden, in June 2012. Its purpose was to explore the current status of the disease in Europe by gathering the European experts in animal botulism and to raise awareness of the disease among veterinarians and others involved in biopreparedness. Animal botulism is underreported and underdiagnosed, but an increasing number of reports, as well as the information gathered from this workshop, show that it is an emerging problem in Europe. The workshop was divided into 4 sessions: animal botulism in Europe, the bacteria behind the disease, detection and diagnostics, and European collaboration and surveillance. An electronic survey was conducted before the workshop to identify the 3 most needed discussion points, which were: prevention, preparedness and outbreak response; detection and diagnostics; and European collaboration and surveillance. The main conclusions drawn from these discussions were that there is an urgent need to replace the mouse bioassay for botulinum toxin detection with an in vitro test and that there is a need for a European network to function as a reference laboratory, which could also organize a European supply of botulinum antitoxin and vaccines. The foundation of such a network was discussed, and the proposals are presented here along with the outcome of discussions and a summary of the workshop itself. © 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Andersson M.G.,National Veterinary Institute SVA | Tomuzia K.,German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment | Lofstrom C.,Technical University of Denmark | Appel B.,German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment | And 10 more authors.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism | Year: 2013

Preparedness for bioterrorism is based on communication between people in organizations who are educated and trained in several disciplines, including law enforcement, health, and science. Various backgrounds, cultures, and vocabularies generate difficulties in understanding and interpretating terms and concepts, which may impair communication. This is especially true in emergency situations, in which the need for clarity and consistency is vital. The EU project AniBioThreat initiated methods and made a rough estimate of the terms and concepts that are crucial for an incident, and a pilot database with key terms and definitions has been constructed. Analysis of collected terms and sources has shown that many of the participating organizations use various international standards in their area of expertise. The same term often represents different concepts in the standards from different sectors, or, alternatively, different terms were used to represent the same or similar concepts. The use of conflicting terminology can be problematic for decision makers and communicators in planning and prevention or when handling an incident. Since the CBRN area has roots in multiple disciplines, each with its own evolving terminology, it may not be realistic to achieve unequivocal communication through a standardized vocabulary and joint definitions for words from common language. We suggest that a communication strategy should include awareness of alternative definitions and ontologies and the ability to talk and write without relying on the implicit knowledge underlying specialized jargon. Consequently, cross-disciplinary communication skills should be part of training of personnel in the CBRN field. In addition, a searchable repository of terms and definitions from relevant organizations and authorities would be a valuable addition to existing glossaries for improving awareness concerning bioterrorism prevention planning. © 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Anniballi F.,Istituto Superiore di Sanita | Auricchio B.,Istituto Superiore di Sanita | Woudstra C.,Food Safety Laboratory | Fach P.,Food Safety Laboratory | And 8 more authors.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism | Year: 2013

Botulism is a neuroparalytic disease that can occur in all warm-blooded animals, birds, and fishes. The disease in animals is mainly caused by toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum strains belonging to group III, although outbreaks due to toxins produced by group I and II organisms have been recognized. Group III strains are capable of producing botulinum toxins of type C, D, and C/D and D/C mosaic variants. Definitive diagnosis of animal botulism is made by combining clinical findings with laboratory investigations. Detection of toxins in clinical specimens and feed is the gold standard for laboratory diagnosis. Since toxins may be degraded by organisms contained in the gastrointestinal tract or may be present at levels below the detection limit, the recovery of C. botulinum from sick animal specimens is consistent for laboratory confirmation. In this article we report the development and in-house validation of a new multiplex real-time PCR for detecting and typing the neurotoxin genes found in C. botulinum group III organisms. Validation procedures have been carried out according to ISO 16140, using strains and samples recovered from cases of animal botulism in Italy and France. © 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Anniballi F.,Istituto Superiore di Sanita | Fiore A.,Istituto Superiore di Sanita | Lofstrom C.,Technical University of Denmark | Skarin H.,National Veterinary Institute SVA | And 16 more authors.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism | Year: 2013

Botulism is a severe neuroparalytic disease that affects humans, all warm-blooded animals, and some fishes. The disease is caused by exposure to toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum and other botulinum toxin-producing clostridia. Botulism in animals represents a severe environmental and economic concern because of its high mortality rate. Moreover, meat or other products from affected animals entering the food chain may result in a public health problem. To this end, early diagnosis is crucial to define and apply appropriate veterinary public health measures. Clinical diagnosis is based on clinical findings eliminating other causes of neuromuscular disorders and on the absence of internal lesions observed during postmortem examination. Since clinical signs alone are often insufficient to make a definitive diagnosis, laboratory confirmation is required. Botulinum antitoxin administration and supportive therapies are used to treat sick animals. Once the diagnosis has been made, euthanasia is frequently advisable. Vaccine administration is subject to health authorities' permission, and it is restricted to a small number of animal species. Several measures can be adopted to prevent or minimize outbreaks. In this article we outline all phases of management of animal botulism outbreaks occurring in wet wild birds, poultry, cattle, horses, and fur farm animals. © 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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