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Empowering Surveillance: Strengthening Europe’s Defense Against West Nile Virus

The “Surveillance & Epidemic Management” project led by Dr. Marco Brustolin from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, focused on West Nile virus (WNV), a zoonotic arbovirus with a rapid geographical expansion in Central Europe, and thus an emerging threat for the continent.

The research centred on acquiring the necessary knowledge to set up and run a surveillance plan, integrating entomological and veterinarian aspects for WNV. Dr. Brustolin sought personalized training on WNV surveillance plan design from Infravec-ISIDORe.

The work performed with ISIDORe involved a visit to the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) in Barcelona, Spain, a public organisation with over 15 years of WNV surveillance expertise. The training program, well-organized and comprehensive, covered theoretical and practical aspects. Dr. Brustolin learned about the workflow of sample processing, gaining practical skills in surveillance design and implementation, sample preparation, serology assays, mosquito collection, and case mapping.

The conclusions and outputs highlighted the valuable skills acquired during the one-week training program. Dr. Brustolin expressed gratitude for the ISIDORe support, emphasizing the gained knowledge and confidence to contribute effectively to WNV surveillance efforts. The acquired skills, particularly in laboratory techniques, will be transferred to Dr. Brustolin’s institute in Belgium, enhancing the preparedness and response capabilities for potential WNV cases. The training contributes to the global effort in detecting and controlling vector-borne diseases, especially in the context of the expanding geographical reach of WNV in Europe.