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Work package 5

Description of work


WP5.1 Identify key infectious and zoonotic diseases in the Baltic food web: We will screen key ecological and commercial species to identify the prevalence of infectious and zoonotic diseases, including bacteria, virus and parasites. Screening will be performed at the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities at UC’s Centre for Geogenetics and TIHO, Specifically, we will use PCR-based methods and next-generation sequencing to amplify, identify and obtain genetic sequences for phylogenetic analyses of virus and bacteria. Furthermore, we will conduct serological analyses and PCR gel-based and morphological identification and histopathology to screen for specific antibodies of selected micro-pathogens, to map the occurrences and to evaluate the health impact when based on necropsies. The output of this WP will feed into WP5.2-4 and 6.


WP5.2 Epizootiology of diseases in the Baltic food web: The outputs of WP2, 5.1 and 4 will allow us to model host-pathogen dynamics in the Baltic food web. This includes the use of pathogen genetic data for phylogeographic analyses of disease spread in relation to wildlife life-history by retrospective coalescent-based modelling. These data will feed into WP6.


WP5.3 Health effects caused by parasites: Investigations over the past decades have shown increasing prevalence of parasites of considerable health concern, such as lung worm, cod worm, whale worm, liver flukes and hook worms in final hosts. We will assess the impact of parasites on the health status of susceptible hosts by compiling available autopsy data, already available through our partners, and newly generated data during the course of BONUS BALTHEALTH. The outcome will feed into WP6.


WP5.4 Human risk assessment of zoonotic diseases: The recent emergence of avian influenza A and the parasite Pseudamphistomum truncatum in Baltic seals have caused concern about the zoonotic potential of this and other diseases to humans. Based on WP4 and 5.1-2 we will perform a risk-assessment of zoonotic diseases for susceptible hosts such as nature users, hunters, fishermen and scientists/handlers of wildlife. The risk assessment will include a screening for specific pathogens in relevant species and a serological survey of humans. These data are to be used in WP6.