Organize rapid transfer, with quality assurance, of techniques for diagnosing avian influenza (AI) and differential diagnosis from Newcastle disease (NC), and implement an initial series of analyses as part of control plans (infected countries) or active monitoring (disease? free or uninfected countries), in order to develop and maintain personnel technical skills.
The technical capacity developed in that way on a continental scale, in partnership with ongoing international initiatives (OIE, FAO, WHO), will form the basis for control and research programmes on fowl pest in Africa. Those programmes, which will involve both wild avifauna monitoring and risk analysis, will each be tested on a true scale at two pilot sites.
AI control needs to be envisaged straight off on a continental scale, as indicated by the foci that have occurred large distances apart (West Africa, Egypt). That means structuring a network of laboratories in which all the countries will at least be able to carry out rapid detection of viral antigens.
Rapid tests need to be systematically completed by more specific and more sensitive tests enabling the identification of the H and N subtypes (PCR), and the pathotype (DNA sequencing). Those data are essential for developing a molecular epidemiology required for understanding the spread of the disease, and thus for establishing appropriate monitoring and control plans.
As African laboratories have highly heterogeneous laboratory infrastructures and associated skills, not all of them will be able to carry out a complete diagnosis. The continental  network will therefore be organized around 3 large groups of laboratories that will implement techniques of increasing levels of complexity:
Not all countries can be partners in the project, but should eventually have their technical capacities assessed and be involved in regional training workshops for transfer of the minimum techniques to be mastered (sampling quality and transfer of samples to the confirmation laboratories, implementation of rapid tests). Initially, this proposal will centre on laboratories in countries that have major avifauna sites. The other countries will be included in the network as and when additional funding allows.
The partnership with AFSSA is already structured (agreement under way) for diagnosis support and training aspects. The AIEA laboratory could contribute to the training workshops.
The laboratories in the LABOVET network (OVI South Africa, NIV Sebata in Ethiopia, LCV in Mali, LANAVET in Cameroon, INMV in Algeria) and those contributing to different research networks are already known and do not require any in-depth assessment. The others may be subject to a rapid analysis by way of a short and specific technical questionnaire: available equipment and infrastructure, staff availability and qualifications.
Technology transfer will be achieved through:
Supply by CIRAD of control reagents to the laboratories (internal analysis checks) and organization of round-robin tests under CIRAD and AFSSA coordination.
Immediate implementation of routine analyses on a first set of samples obtained from foci or monitoring of wild avifauna or domestic fowl. The choice of sites and sampling plans will be made in collaboration with the veterinary services according to the most urgent needs. A particular effort could be focused in that sense on the countries and sites taken into account by the wild avifauna monitoring plans coordinated by FAO.
It is, in fact, essential that technical personnel carry out analyses in their own laboratory immediately after the training seminars, in order to be rapidly faced with all the problems inherent to that type of analysis, and solve them in partnership with CIRAD.
The training of local teams and installation of a permanent observatory will be carried out In conjunction with the FAO-funded projects for wild avifauna sampling. Two pilot sites are proposed: southern Africa and Mali.
Risk analysis is one of the purposes of the research to be carried out on avian influenza. It will be tested by including the economic risk at two sites in connection with more general epidemiology work undertaken by CIRAD researchers: in Vietnam in conjunction with work being undertaken by FAO and with the support of a researcher made available toCIRAD by MAAPAR, and inEthiopia in conjunction with the regional epidemiology PSF project.
The technical activities will make it possible to structure an AI network based on existing epidemiology-monitoring networks(PACE, EPIVET) or research networks (INCO MARKVAC, EPIGENEVAC, TRYPADVAC, PI EDEN, etc.).A coordinating body will be set up along lines to be defined with the participating parties.
A website will be created as a tool to keep track of control and technical information dissemination operations. It will include a database of laboratories and monitoring systems, a database making it possible to manage data and retrieve summarized epidemiological results in a participatory manner (focus and prevalence maps, etc.). The CaribVET website (www.caribvet.net ) set up for the Caribbean region under the EPIVET project can serve as an example.
The site will be thought out in partnership with the PACE and ALIVE African networks undergoing construction, in order to pool resources and culminate in a joint tool.
Virology : Emmanuel Albina; Philippe Caufour; Patricia Gil; Saliha Hammoumi
Epidemiology : Véronique Chevalier; Stéphanie Desvaux; Flavie Goutard; Sophie Molia; Marisa Peyre
Wild birds : Gilles Balança; Julien Cappelle; Nicolas Gaidet