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Operational Direction

Viral Diseases

Organization chart : Thierry van den Berg

Operational Director:

Thierry van den Berg

Tel : +32 (0)2/ 379 06 30

Fax : +32 (0)2/ 379 06 70

Gsm : +32 (0)473 25 27 80

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Tasks and Mission


By virtue of its expertise, which is based on scientific research and diagnosis, the Operational Direction "Viral Diseases" :

  • ensures quick identification and characterisation,
  • provides advice as part of the control policy,
  • develops and validates the tools required to put control strategies in place

for the main known and newly-emerging pathogenic animal viruses and pathogenic zoonotic viruses, as a privileged federal partner and a major international interlocutor.

Viral diseases - CODA-CERVA



The Operational Direction of  Viral Diseases consists in  :

  • scientific tasks that are able to provide continuity of work and expertise in the field of animal virology. These scientific units combine the function of National Reference Laboratory (NRL) with that of a centre of excellence in both diagnosis and in the control of viral diseases.
  • research programmes aiming at continuous improvement and support of the work of the reference laboratories, at better control of viral diseases in animals (including vaccination and anti-virals) and at continuous vigilance in respect of exotic diseases,  (re)emerging and vector diseases.


The Operational Direction "Viral Diseases" is National Reference Laboratory for :

  • Classical swine fever
  • Horse sickness
  • Avian Influenza
  • Newcastle disease
  • Swine Vesicular Disease
  • Bluetongue
  • African swine fever
  • Food-and-mouth disease
  • Bovine fever
  • Peste des petits ruminants (goat plague)
  • Bovine leucose
  • Aujeszky disease
  • Equine infectious anemia
  • West nile virus & eastern horse encephalitis
  • Rift valley fever
  • Lumpy skin disease
  • Vesicular stomatitis
  • Sheep and goat pox
  • Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis
  • Bovine viral diarrhoa
  • Visna-Maedi and caprine arthritis encephalitis virus



The established structure is intended to :

  • Consolidate the National Reference Laboratories (NRLs)
  • Develop or assess new diagnosis tools to consolidate CODA-CERVA's position relating to known or newly-emerging risks in animal health,
  • Create greater cohesion within CODA-CERVA and favour activities able at promoting collaboration with the other Operational Directorates,Viral diseases - CODA-CERVA
  • Maintain CODA-CERVA's position nationally (network of partnerships with universities and other scientific institutions) in order to participate in research projects that will upgrade CODA-CERVA's experience and expertise
  • Build a higher international profile by being integration into international networks and participation in European research projects,

The merging of the expertise in the field of virology within the Operational Directorate " Viral Diseases" should allow achieving a sufficient and complementary critical mass in research and provision of services.


The organisation will need to take the emerging issues related to climate change into account, as well as changes in travelling habits and means of transport of people, animals and contaminating agents. Particularly,  Arboviroses represent a growing concern.


In this context, crisis anticipation and preparedness is essential.


The need for early responses in the first diagnosis, and capability of processing large numbers of samples, drives us all the more to further develop the high throughput molecular detection techniques.

Research projects in the Operational Direction


Ongoing projects

  • Belvir - Virus - host interplay at the early stages of infection
  • Nadiv - Co-circulation of avian influenza and velogenic Newcastle disease viruses - impact on pathogenesis, immune response and disease prevention
  • CostIB - The Infectious Bronchitis : Strategies for Diagnosis, Surveillance and Vaccination
  • Transcriptovac - Host response gene signatures associated with FMDV infection, vaccination and persistence
  • OIE Twinning - Foot-and-mouth disease diagnostic laboratory capacity building
  • Lumpy Skin - Lumpy skin disease in Belgisch rundvee en potentiële vectoren Risicoanalyse, diagnose, bestrijding, vaccinatie, transmissie en vectorcompetentiestudies ter voorkoming van insleep en verspreiding
  • BMGF - comparison of the efficacy of inactivated and live attenuated lumpy skin disease vaccines for cattle
  • VIRNA - Implementation and application of technics for viral rescue from segmented and non-segmented viral RNA genomes
  • SRLV BEL - Analysis of prevalence, genetic variation and cross-species transmission of small ruminant lentiviruses (SRLV: Maedi-Visna, CAEV) in Belgium in order to optimize diagnostics and to support the policy related to the voluntary SRLV control program
  • PeDetect : Validation of diagnostic tests for the detection and monitoring of porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus in Belgium


Closed projects (2014-2015)

  • Immunovac - Program to study the immunity induced by the rHVT vaccine vectors and mechanisms behind the induced protection in poultry (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Fabienne Rauw)
  • EPI_SEQ - Molecular epidemiology of epizootic diseases using next generation sequencing technology (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Steven Van Borm)
  • Bluetongue (BT research) - Study of the emerging strains of the bluetongue virus to get to know better the repercussions of the disease's epidemiological evolution and to adapt the plans to fight it accordingly (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Kris De Clercq)
  • Antivires - Resistance barrier mechanism of antiviral agents against the foot and mouth disease virus and the classical and African swine flu virus (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : David Lefebvre)
  • Ordiavir - Study of the emerging strains of bluetongue viruses to learn more about the epidemiological evolution of the disease and to adapt the control plans accordingly (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Brigitte Cay)
  • Race - Rapid Antiviral Containment of Epidemics of Classical Swine Fever and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : David Lefebvre)
  • Rapidiafield - Rapidia Field Diagnostics and Screening in Veterinary Medicine (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Frank Koenen)
  • Orbinet - (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Kris De Clercq)
  • EPIDIACAP - Risk-based increase of diagnostic capacities for epizootic diseases in Belgium (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Frank Koenen)
  • LSD Model - Validating the Lumpy skin disease (LSD) challenge model to be used for the testing of the newly developed inactivated LSD vaccine (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Andy Haegeman)
  • IBRDIA - Contribution to the IBR control programme by optimising the diagnostic detection methods (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project  : Brigitte Cay - Marylène Tignon)
  • Indevireq - Diagnosis and evolution of the African horse sickness virus by genetic reassortment (CODA-CERVA scientific contact for this project : Brigitte Cay)



The Operational Directorate "Virological Diseases" is made up of the following operational services :

Operational Units

Vesicular and exotic diseases

Molecular Platform

Avian virology and immunology

Enzootic and (re)emerging diseases