Partner 3 – Istituto Superiore de Sanita (ISS)

ISS, Rome, Italy, is the main research institute for public health in Italy. Its activities include research, control, training and consultation in the interest of public health protection. It is made of 7 Departments, 5 National Centers and 2 Technical Services. The Department of Infectious, Parasitic & Immunomediated Diseases (MIPI) is composed by 15 Units that cover research and control activities on viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections affecting humans.

The Unit of Vector-borne Diseases & International Health is one of the two parasitology Units of the MIPI Department. Its duties include surveillance and control of major vector-borne parasitic diseases in Italy, cooperation with developing countries as well as basic research. Research in the Leishmaniasis field consists of surveillance of human and canine disease; validation of diagnostics; laboratory and field testing of drugs and vaccines; molecular Leishmania taxonomy; biology and control of phlebotomine vectors. The Unit of Viral Diseases & Attenuated Vaccines of MIPI Department investigate on the epidemiology, diagnosis and human pathogenesis of Arboviruses. Research on phlebotomine viruses led to the discovery of 3 new agents, Toscana, Arbia (Phlebovirus) and Radi virus (Vesiculovirus), along with the demonstration of Toscana virus as an agent of neurological disease in humans. Studies performed on virus/sand fly relationships demonstrated trans-ovarial and venereal transmission in the insect host.

ISS has been appointed as deputy partner of the PhBD subgroup. Major tasks of the Unit of Vector- borne Diseases & International Health will be monitoring the spreading of L. infantum in northern continental Italy, with relevance to the evaluation of novel diagnostic tools; risk assessment for the introduction in Italy of the exogenous Leishmania species; evaluation of the vector competence of indigenous sand fly species; assessment of new methods for vector and canine reservoir control. The main task of the Unit of Viral Diseases & Attenuated Vaccines will be the centralization of monitoring activities aimed to assess the spreading of Phleboviruses in Europe, through isolation and identification of agents from sand fly samples received by partners of the PhBD group.

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