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Epidemiology, Health and Welfare Unit (Episabe) of the Ploufragan-Plouzané-Niort Laboratory

Head of Unit: Nicolas Rose

Deputy Head of Unit: Sophie Le Bouquin-Leneveu

The Episabe Unit is the result of a merger in late 2018 between the two units of the Ploufragan-Plouzané-Niort Laboratory working on epidemiology and welfare: one for swine and the other for poultry and rabbits.

This unit focuses its research activities on the acquisition of knowledge for understanding and managing categorised and non-categorised health hazards in the poultry, swine, rabbit and aquaculture sectors, as well as potentially goats. It also studies zoonotic hazards within these sectors, antimicrobial use practices in relation to the emergence of resistance, and ways of improving animal welfare.

The Sanivol joint technology unit (UMT) 

Created in 2009, the Sanivol UMT results from a partnership between the Technical Institute for Poultry, Fish and Rabbit Farming (ITAVI) and the ANSES Ploufragan-Plouzané-Niort Laboratory (Episabe Unit). Through its research activities, it contributes to optimising the health management of French poultry production. Its multidisciplinary approach is developed in accordance with the principles of "One Health, One Welfare" so as to ensure a holistic approach to animal health and welfare, and human health and welfare, in interaction with the environment. The Sanivol UMT's mandate has been renewed for the period 2020-2025.

Reference activities

The Episabe Unit is involved in the European Reference Centre for animal welfare, coordinated by ANSES.

Surveillance activities

The unit is involved in monitoring diseases and pathogens of importance for the sectors in which it is interested, either by directly running dedicated schemes (epidemiological surveillance networks) or by providing epidemiological expertise.

In particular, the Episabe Unit runs the national network for epidemiological observation in poultry farming (RNOEA), which has been monitoring the epidemiological development of diseases observed on poultry farms in France since 1989. The network operates with the voluntary participation of 75 veterinary members in the field or laboratory (spread over 30 laboratories, nine private practices and five production organisations). Without being exhaustive, the data collected are used to monitor the epidemiological development of poultry diseases, regardless of the poultry production type, to rank them and to detect emerging or re-emerging diseases. The network can therefore alert professionals in the event of a worrying health situation and provide epidemiological data for poultry sector stakeholders and for guiding research projects.
For more information, contact rnoea@anses.fr.

Research activities 

The Episabe Unit's research activities focus on the study of pathogens (animal health, veterinary public health) in the environment in which they spread or express their pathogenicity: most often the farm, but also the successive stages of the production process upstream (animal feed, hatchery) and downstream (slaughter, cutting) of the farm.

Research is also carried out on the influence of livestock farming systems on animal welfare. To this end, work is carried out in the experimental station and in real conditions using more global approaches that take into account the interactions between health and welfare.

The unit's main ongoing research projects

ASFMOD (2020-2023)

Modelling African swine fever at the wildlife/domestic animal interface

Financing: Inaporc, Agrenium

PIGAL (2019-2023)

Alternative pig farming: opportunities and risks associated with animal health, welfare and biosecurity

Funding: France-Agrimer, Cooperl, Sica-Gouessant, Avril Nutrition, Herta, Zoetis and Inaporc

ADONIS (2020-2022)

Assessing determinants of the non-decreasing incidence of Salmonella

Funding: One Health EJP

The aim of this project is to understand the factors behind the stagnation in the number of human cases of salmonellosis in the European Union.

Find out more about the project

NOVA (2018-2021) 

Novel approaches for design and evaluation of cost-effective surveillance across the food chain

Funding: EJP One Health

This project focuses on the design and evaluation of epidemiological surveillance throughout the food chain.

COLISEE (2017-2020) 

What are the possible courses of action for controlling avian colibacillosis on broiler farms?

Funding: CASDAR (Special Funds for Agricultural and Rural Development)

Project completed

HEV (2016-2020)

How can the hepatitis E virus be controlled in the swine sector?

Funding: Directorate General for Food, Interprofessional Organisation for the Pig Sector (INAPORC)