COST research action on animal chlamydioses and the zoonotic implications

June 12, 2002

Brussels, 11 June 2002

Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of a European Concerted Research Action designated as COST Action 855 "Animal Chlamydioses and the Zoonotic Implications." European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research - COST Secretariat. Brussels, 10 June 2002 (document COST 241/02). Full text

Delegations will find attached hereto the text of the abovementioned Memorandum of Understanding signed in Brussels on 29 May 2002 by Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom, on 5 June 2002 by Poland and on 6 June 2002 by Belgium.

The Signatories of this Memorandum of Understanding, declaring their common intention to participate in the concerted Action referred to above and described in the Technical Annex to the Memorandum, have reached the following understanding:

1. The Action will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of document COST 400/01 "Rules and Procedures for Implementing COST Actions", the contents of which the Signatories are fully aware of.

2. The main objective of the Action is to better understand the spread and importance of animal chlamydioses in Europe by using epidemiological data.

3. The economic dimension of the activities carried out under the Action has been estimated, on the basis of information available during the planning of the Action, at Euro 4.9 million at 2001 prices.

4. The Memorandum of Understanding will take effect on being signed by at least five Signatories.

5. The Memorandum of Understanding will remain in force for a period of four years, calculated from the date of the first meeting of the Management Committee, unless the duration of the Action is modified according to the provisions of the document referred to in Point 1 above.

TECHNICAL ANNEX

A. BACKGROUND

Chlamydiae are widely distributed throughout the world, causing various forms of disease in animals and humans. Several species, particularly Chlamydophila (Cp.) psittaci and Cp. abortus, are known to be transmissible from animals to humans, causing significant zoonotic infections. The unique biphasic lifestyle of these obligately intracellular bacteria, which includes an infective extracellular and a parasitic intracellular phase, renders the respective diseases difficult to control.

This is compounded by the specialist growth conditions for the organisms and the lack of a genetic based system for the transformation of chlamydiae, both of which have hampered research on these pathogens. To escape the host immune response these bacteria are capable of transforming into persistent stages of development characterised by a distinct antigenic profile....

B. OBJECTIVES AND BENEFITS

The main objective of the Action is to better understand the spread and importance of animal chlamydioses in Europe by using epidemiological data.

The hazards of animal chlamydioses for human public health arising from contact to reared, companion, synanthropic and wild animals will be assessed.

To achieve this goal, effective detection methods based on DNA amplification, monoclonal antibodies or recombinant proteins will be developed and validated by a working group of the Action.

Current research in member countries will increase knowledge on the determinants of pathogenicity of chlamydial isolates, an important prerequisite for the assessment of the zoonotic potential and virulence in general.

The benefits of the Action include the improvement of general diagnostic standards in Europe in connection with animal chlamydioses. Diagnostic data collected during the Action will be the basis for recommendations on improved management, control and prophylaxis of chlamydial infections, such as the psittacosis/ornithosis complex and OEA. The efficacy of currently used vaccines will be assessed and the prospects of novel vaccines can be evaluated. The development of cheaper, safer alternatives, such as recombinant protein or DNA-based vaccines would be a major advance, benefiting animal welfare, reducing the risk of zoonotic infection and reducing the considerable economic losses resulting from the disease.

Generally, the Action will contribute to improvements in animal health and welfare, as well as human health. The negative economic impact on animal husbandry caused by chlamydioses will be reduced....

D. ORGANISATION AND TIMETABLE

The duration of the Action is 4 years.

The main scientific discussion forum of the Action will be workshops held annually in different member countries. Exchange of scientific information and practical collaboration will be done mainly in the five Working Groups (see below), which will also be responsible for choosing the topics of the workshops. Short-term scientific missions and other exchange of scientists between laboratories will be initiated and prepared at the Working Group level before being proposed to the Management Committee. A schematic presentation of the organisation is shown in Figure 2...

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