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Global Experts Study Aquatic Animal Disease


CANADA - The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) at the University of Prince Edward Island and the National Veterinary Institute in Norway have joined forces to establish the worlds only OIE Collaborating Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Assessment of Aquatic Animal Diseases.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) confirmed the designation of the Centre during its annual general session in Paris in May 2010. OIE Collaborating Centres play a key role in the management of animal health issues and resulting impacts on the health of communities around the world. The OIE Collaborating Centre designation recognizes world leadership in aquatic epidemiological research for aquatic food production based at AVC and the National Veterinary Institute (Norway).

“Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world,” says Dr Larry Hammell, Co-director of the OIE Collaborating Centre, Director of AVC’s Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences and Innovation PEI Industry Research Chair in Epidemiology for Aquatic Food Production.

“Increasingly, countries around the world are turning to aquatic species as a source of high quality food for their populations,” explains Hammell. “This requires healthy food animals from healthy aquatic ecosystems. Establishing this Collaborating Centre is a timely and necessary step in supporting the future of aquatic health management on a global scale.”

“This partnership between our two institutions is a very exciting opportunity to solidify even stronger linkages, and develop research and training programs for other aquatic food producing countries,” says Dr. Edgar Brun, Head of the Epidemiology Section, National Veterinary Institute (Norway) and Co-director of the OIE Collaborating Centre.

Researchers from a range of aquatic health-related disciplines including finfish, mollusc and crustacean field studies will be part of the Centre. The Centre will focus on evidence-based health management using epidemiology--the study of disease in populations--for aquatic health issues.

It will also provide training for producers and scientists, conduct research involving local veterinarians and producers, and deliver services to the aquaculture industry and governments in areas such as:

  • disease outbreak investigations and risk factor studies,
  • surveillance and diagnostic test evaluation,
  • disease control and clinical field trials,
  • decision-support tools that deliver evidence-based outcomes to all levels of policy makers,
  • training of experts in aquatic epidemiology and evidence-based health management,
  • epidemiological risk assessment.

“Ensuring a safe, sustainable and affordable supply of food is an ongoing issue for much of the world’s growing population,” says Dr Brian Evans, Canada’s Chief Veterinary Officer and the country’s first Chief Food Safety Officer.

“The establishment of the OIE Collaborating Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Assessment of Aquatic Animal Diseases is an important contribution to both food security and to the global economy. Given the standards and competence that must be demonstrated to achieve designation by the OIE, it speaks volumes of the expertise and scientific excellence resident at AVC and at Norway’s National Veterinary Institute.”

The establishment of this OIE Collaborating Centre formalizes a network of global experts and will greatly increase knowledge and capacity needed to solve health management issues involving aquatic species. In addition to improving the health of aquatic species, the Centre will provide the scientific basis to influence international standards and guide policy decisions at all levels, including groups such as fish farmers, veterinarians, subnational and federal governments.

The Atlantic Veterinary College and the National Veterinary Institute (Norway) are world-leading academic-based aquatic health institutions. In addition to the OIE Collaborating Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Assessment of Aquatic Animal Diseases, AVC is home to an OIE Reference Laboratory for Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA), a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology, an Aquatic Diagnostics Laboratory, and several centres of aquatic species expertise.