Current projects

OneChick: One Health Poultry Hub (2019-2024)

Funded by GCRF

The demand for poultry products in Asia has been particularly fast in the last few decades, following urban growth, urbanization and increase in wealth leading to changes in dietary preferences. This very fast growth poses many challenges in terms of animal and public health linked to emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, to foodborne pathogens or to the overuse of antimicrobials. Small-scale poultry farming plays an important role in terms of livelihood and is an important source of protein and income to millions of smallholders. OneChick is a large multistakeholder project which aims to investigate approaches for sustainable intensification of poultry production in Asia. Our role in the project will be to work on the present and future geographical distribution of poultry production, demand and markets in the project focus countries: Bangladesh, India, Sri-Lanka and Vietnam.

OneChick Project web site

GeoAccessHealth: The availability and accessibility of health services in space and time: analytical assessment, data integration and real-time visualization (2019-2020)

Funded by Innoviris - Main parner: Blue Square

Accessibility to healthcare facilities, expressed in terms if travel time to seek health care and treatment is a a key aspect of public health. Accessibility is particularly critical in low-income countries because both the transportation network and the number of healthcare facilities can make access to treatment particularly difficult. Accessibility can be quantified using spatial modelling procedure, as with the help of spatial database on human population, transportation infrastructure and healthcare facilities location. However, all three are dynamic by nature, and a real-time quantification of accessibility to healthcare is currently not possible. This projects aims to develop and implement semi-automatique procedures to quantify the accessibility of patients to healthcare facilities in a set of countries in sub-saharan Africa, and integrate them in an information system. In the longer term, the system that would be developped could be applied and extended to other countries and support public health operations and policies.

MONODIS: : Influence of the distribution, extent and fragmentation of pine stands in Europe on the distribution and abundance of Monochamus spp., the vectors of Bursaphelenchus xylophilus – a contribution to pest risk assessment (2019-2020)

Funded by SPF Santé Publique - Main parners: Centre de Recherche agronomique wallon, Gembloux; Unité de Recherche Zoologie forestière, INRA, Orléans, France.

The pine wood nematode (PWN) has established in Portugal in the late 1990s, is presently occupying the whole country and is frequently spreading to Spain, although it has been so far eradicated in this country. The nematode is vectored by Cerambycid beetles of the genus Monochamus, which inoculate new hosts when the adults proceed to maturation feeding on young twigs. Because of this forest health impact, all European Union (EU) Member States must monitor for PWN presence, either in pine wood samples or in Monochamus spp. collected in the forest as well as at potential entry points. This project aims to map the distribution of Monochamus spp. at the European scale as a function of forest and climate predictor spatial variables. The expected result is the definition of a probability of presence of Monochamus spp. in Belgium and, hence, the improvement of the national monitoring and contingency plans relative to the pine wood nematode with, for example, a clearer views of the priorities for allocating resources to controls at entry points vs. controls in forest areas.

XFAST: Biological characteristics of potential vectors of Xylella fastidiosa to support sampling and containment procedures (2019 - 2021)

Funded by SPF Santé Publique - Main parners: Applied Microbiology, Earth and Life Institute, UCLouvain.

Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) is an extremely harmful phytopathogenic bacteria. Originating from the Americas, it was found in southern Italy (Apulia) in 2013 and has, to date, killed hundreds of thousands of olive trees. Since then, it has been found in France (Corsica and mainland) and Spain (Baleares islands and mainland). Xf lives in the xylem and is vectored by xylem sap-sucking hemiptera. It is known to colonise several hundred plant species. In relation with this threat to Belgium, the project aims to better understand the dispersal of its vector species, to ivestigate the succession of host plants of the main vectors, and to study scenarios for contingency plans.

PALE-Blu: Understanding pathogen, livestock, environment interactions involving bluetongue virus (2017-2020)

Funded by EU H2020

New outbreaks caused by bluetongue viruses (BTVs) have emerged in European livestock every year since 1998. These events that have been linked to climate change, resulted in massive losses due to fatalities, reduced productivity, reproductive failures, restricted animal movements/trade, and surveillance/vaccination costs. PALE-Blu brings together European institutes with expertise in BTV research and diagnosis, with partners in endemic regions (Africa, the Middle East and Turkey) that act as a ‘source’ for BTV strains that emerge in Europe. Our role in the project it to lead the spatial modelling work package, which aims to better understand how environmental and anthropogenic factors influence the spread of the disease, using spatial modelling and landscape phylogenetic approaches.

PALE-Blu Project web site

Mapping the transition toward more sustainable livestock production systems (2017-2021)

Funded by FNRS PDR-WISD - Main parners: Sophie Vanwambeke from UCLouvain.

Many livestock production systems (LPS) are in a state of transition. In high-income countries, LPS are pushed toward more sutainable practices, whereas low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are experiencing fast intensification processes. Assessing the impact of such transitions requires an understanding of how they will affect the spatial distribution of livestock. This project builds on our extensive experience of mapping livestock distributions with two main objectives. First, based on the present-day situation in a range of countries along an intensification gradient, we aim to better understand the factors influencing the spatial distribution of farms and animals at multiple spatial scales. Second, based on the present and retrospective spatio-temporal livestock distribution models, we aim to project the future distribution of livestock according to the different “shared socioeconomic pathways” (SSPs), which are standardized scenarios of the future that have been developed in the context of climate change.

Past projects

Xyleris: Study on Xylella fastidiosa plant hosts and vectors in Belgium and the influence of specific plant growth conditions on disease development (2016-2018)
Funded by Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.

Fungifor: Phytosanitary status of 8 fungi (+ 1 insect vector) infecting trees in Belgium: survey and evaluation of the risk of establishment (2015-2018)
Funded by Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.

MAUPP: Modelling and forecasting African Urban Population Patterns for vulnerability and health assessments (2014-2018)
Funded by Belgian Science Policy STEREO-III programme.

Transmission dynamics and spillover of avian influenza under changing agricultural intensification and landscapes (2013-2018)
Funded by U.S. NIH NIAID Programme (1R01AI101028-01A1).

WILDTUB: Targetted surveillance of the emergence of bovine tuberculosis in Belgian wildlife (2015-2017)
Funded by Belgian SPF.

Mapping people and livestock (2013-2017)
Funded by F.R.S-FNRS, Brussels, Belgium.

Edenext: Biology and control of vector-borne infections in Europe (2010-2014)
Funded by FP7 EU.

AFRIPOP: Mapping human population in Africa (2009-2011)
Funded by Wiener-Anspach fundation.

Ecology-based risk assessment of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) in Asia (2006-2010)
Funded by NIH EID Programme (US).

EPI STIS: Remote sensing tools to study the Epidemiology and Space/Time Dynamics of diseases (2006-2010)
Funded by Belgian Science Policy STEREO-II programme.

Epidémiologie de l’Influenza Aviaire en Afrique (2008)
Funded by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The agro-ecology of avian influenza (2008)
Funded by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Epidemiology of Bovine Tuberculosis in Great Britain (2004-2007)
Funded by DEFRA (UK).

Comparing method for estimating spread rates of biological invasions (2006)
Funded by USDA Forest Service.