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Online Advanced Course Aquaculture Epidemiological Surveillance

21 January 2022

CIHEAM Zaragoza and the EU H2020 funded project MedAID (Mediterranean Aquaculture Integrated Development, Grant agreement No 727315) organized an advanced course for professionals on “Aquaculture Epidemiological Surveillance” with the collaboration of the University of Zaragoza which was held online from 23 September to 28 October 2021 over a period of 5 weeks with 16 live streaming sessions. The total time required to complete the course, including individual and practical work, was 64 hours. The course was structured in five topics and at the end of the theoretical part, different experts were invited for the online sessions to delve into the most important aspects of each topic.

The initial topic was purely theoretical, the concepts included in the syllabus were practised and understood through suggested reading and self-tests. In the second topic the focus was placed on epidemiological surveillance as well as its classification and new approaches that are being applied in the aquaculture sector. Two expert sessions were organized with Edmund Peeler (CEFAS, UK) who made a communication entitled “The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and its role in aquaculture health” in which he explained the functioning of an institution as important for animal health such as the OIE; and Edgar Brun (NVI, Norway) who made a communication entitled “Epidemiological surveillance of salmonid aquaculture in Norway of listed and non-listed diseases” through which it was possible to discuss and understand how epidemiological surveillance is managed in a reference country, such as Norway, for listed and non-listed diseases.

The third topic was the study and analysis of the disease and included very diverse concepts such as sampling, of great importance in aquaculture, or the impact that these diseases have on production. The sampling was explained in depth by Professors Ana Muniesa and Ignacio de Blas (Univ. Zaragoza, Spain) in two practical work sessions in which various computer exercises were performed using the WinEpi epidemiological calculator. To understand the impact that these diseases have on aquaculture production and the diagnostic procedures used in each, 3 invited presentations were delivered: “Bacterial diseases with impact on seabass and seabream farming” with S. Zrncic (HVI, Croatia), “Viral diseases with impact on Mediterranean fish farming” with A. Toffan (IZSVe, Italy) and “Diagnostic procedures in the case of mortality caused by unknown aetiology” with N. Vendramin (DTU, Denmark).

The 4th topic focused on the prediction of disease, risk and modelling and risk exercises were explained in depth by Professor Ana Muniesa (Univ. Zaragoza, Spain) in a practical work session in which various computer exercises were performed using the WinEpi epidemiological calculator. In addition, a guest lecture was delivered entitled “Risk assessment of VER/VNN introduction and spread in seabass farms” by S. Tavornpanich (NVI, Norway) in which he looked into aspects of risk and disease modelling with a specific case such as VER/VNN.

The final topic involved tools for control and eradication since the main objective of epidemiology is to serve as a basis for the development of policies that influence human health, such as the prevention and control of diseases. There were 2 guest sessions: “Biosecurity in Mediterranean fish farming” by A. Le Breton (Vet’Eau, France), and “Fish farming health defence groups in Spain. Objectives and surveillance programmes” by J. López (FEADSA, Spain) and a final session coordinated by the FAO on “FAO tools for the evaluation and improvement of surveillance systems” that was broadcasted openly in an attempt to reach a larger audience. This session included the following talks: “FAO tools: SET” with Sophie von Dobschuetz and her team, “Mapping Tool and ATLASS” with Beatrice Mouillé, “GEMP, PPEP and AAR” with Ludovic Plee, “Adaptation of SET to aquaculture” with A. Muniesa and B. Basurco, and “Twelve (12)-point checklist for surveillance of diseases of aquatic organisms” with Melba Reantaso.

The course generated a great interest in view of the hundred and ten applications received from 31 different countries. Eventually, 30 aquaculture health experts participated in the course from the following 20 countries: Chile (1), Croatia (1), Ecuador (1), Egypt (2), Greece (2), Italy (1), Macedonia (1), Malaysia (1), Morocco (2), Norway (1), Peru (2), Portugal (1), Serbia Montenegro (1), Spain (6), Sri Lanka (1), Tunisia (1), Turkey (2), Ukraine (1), United Kingdom (1), and USA (1). Participants came from national administrations, aquaculture and biotechnology sectors, research and university.

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