BioSS at the EPIC Conference 2023
A number of BioSS staff attended the EPIC conference on 3-4 October in Edinburgh. EPIC is the Scottish Government-funded Centre of Expertise in Animal Disease Outbreaks, and many BioSS staff are involved in EPIC-funded work. The conference was an opportunity for researchers, Scottish Government and other stakeholders to discuss EPIC work and related issues. The theme of the conference was One Health, an important unifying theme, which is particularly pertinent to BioSS, given how we work across issues relating to animal, plant, human and environmental health.
Matthew Baylis (University of Liverpool) (pictured above) gave a keynote talk in which he sought to define and make sense of One Health as an approach to animal health that recognises the close connections to both human health and our shared environment.
Stephen Catterall (pictured above) gave an overview of EPIC’s recent work on outbreak preparedness. He mentioned generic software tools for modelling disease transmission, methods to handle data-poor settings such as in the early stages of a disease outbreak, and ways to exploit and make best use of available data on animal diseases.
On the second day of the conference there was a session on advances in methods to quantify disease outbreaks. Glenn Marion (pictured above) gave a wide-ranging talk on methods for modelling disease outbreaks, which complemented a talk by Sam Lycett (Roslin Institute) on using pathogen sequence data to understand the spread of disease. Corinne Elsenbroich (University of Glasgow) gave an intriguing talk on agent-based models and the use of ‘justified stories’ as a tool for exploring potential scenarios.
Iain McKendrick (pictured above, on the left) chaired a discussion at the end of the session and was also involved in a plenary discussion on the future implementation of One Health approaches.
There was also a session on vaccination as a tool for avian influenza control. This session turned out to be very topical given that avian influenza vaccination in ducks in France started on the day before the conference! Estevao Simoes (Scottish Government) considered the potential costs and benefits of implementing avian influenza vaccination in Scotland. Giles Innocent (pictured above) presented some of EPIC’s work on avian influenza. He showed how the analysis of bird mortality data can provide useful insights into transmission of this disease. Overall, this was a really interesting and topical conference, with many fascinating talks and lots of scope for informal discussions.