Zoonotic bacterial diseases

Unit responsible: 

Diagnosing, monitoring, isolating and characterising intracellular bacteria of animal origin that can be transmitted to humans

We detect, identify and monitor the zoonotic bacteria responsible for infectious diseases in animals, such as, for example, Q fever (coxiellosis), leptospirosis, chlamydophila abortus or tularaemia. Sciensano is a forerunner in the application of the ‘One Health’ concept for certain diseases such as Q fever and brucellosis. In this context, we monitor the evolution and anticipate a possible emergence of these zoonotic bacteria in animals, humans and in the environment. We also advise the health authorities continually, to help them control and combat these diseases effectively.

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Besides routine diagnosis, we use and develop genetic methods to characterise the isolated bacteria or, if isolation proves difficult, the contaminated samples directly. In the event of an epidemic, we are thus able to trace the source of contamination, to identify the mode(s) of transmission and to monitor the evolution of the bacteria over time.

We therefore work on improving diagnosis in veterinary and human medicine, on the one hand by checking the commercial diagnostic kits used in national laboratories and on the other by improving cultivation techniques for bacteria that are difficult to cultivate.

Within the context of our reference activities, we prepare well-characterised control material for diseases that fall within our remit.

Finally, we collaborate with the health authorities and develop research activities to improve the monitoring of and the fight against these diseases.


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