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Strengthening public health by understanding the epidemiology of rodent-borne diseases (RoBoPub)


This third-party funded project is conducted in the framework of the BfR research programme on human, animal and environmental health (One Health).

BMBF grant number: 01KI1721B

Project homepage: -

Project description:

Hantaviruses and Leptospira spp. cause life-threatening and notifiable human diseases and are transmitted by persistently infected rodents. Frequent manifestations of both diseases are unspecific, flu-like symptoms. Therefore, human infections with these pathogens are commonly under- or misdiagnosed resulting in a high level of underreporting. The emergence of disease clusters or outbreaks of both pathogens is complex and associated with individual pathogen properties like virulence and tenacity, but also environmental and climatic factors, as well as geographical distribution, rodent reservoir association and host population dynamics. Finally, susceptibility and the behaviour of the human population strongly affects likelihood of infection. The notification of human disease cases is influenced by the awareness of physicians and diagnostic capabilities, the risk perception and behaviour of the human population as well as severity of manifestation.

This interdisciplinary consortium aims to create the necessary knowledge of the epidemiology of hantaviruses and Leptospira and to translate these findings into public health intervention measures. Within this OneHealth initiative the pathogen-, rodent reservoir-, environment-related aspects of pathogen transmission, as well as human disease manifestation and detection, and social aspects of awareness and risk perception will be studied. The final objective is to perform a risk assessment and to generate risk maps, early warning modules, risk management plans and public health recommendations.

BfR parts of the project:

The four main topics that will be addressed during this project are the spatial distribution and temporal oscillation of Leptospira kirschneri prevalence in common vole populations (working package (WP) 1), the influence of environmental factors on the survival of Leptospira spp. and the identification of genetic factors associated with virulence (WP2), as well as the Leptospira seroprevalence in different human cohorts (WP3). The aim is that, in a final step, the generated data will be merged to develop management strategies and public health recommendations for the mitigation of the risk of human exposure and the improvement of public health.

In a joint effort of all partners, the acquired knowledge will be implemented into public health measures. Thus, results of the studies WP1-2 will be the basis for the generation of local risk maps. Results of the studies in WP3 will be explored for the development of early warning modules and the development of public health recommendations and their dissemination.

Project partners:

  • Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Germany (coordination)
  • Julius Kühn-Institute, Germany
  • Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Niedersächsisches Landesgesundheitsamt, Germany
  • Landeszentrum Gesundheit Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
  • Süddeutsches Institut für empirische Sozialforschung, Germany
  • Landesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittel-sicherheit, Germany
  • University of Leipzig, Germany


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