Skip to main content

About us

APCOVE is a consortium of more than 40 veterinary epidemiologists, established to strengthen field veterinary epidemiology capacity in the Asia Pacific region.

APCOVE works with government animal health authorities and educators in the Asia-Pacific region. We help train animal disease detectives to detect, prevent and control animal disease outbreaks that may impact human health, animal health and farmer livelihoods.

APCOVE is led by the University of Sydney and includes veterinary epidemiologists from all veterinary schools in Australia and New Zealand and animal health experts from eight countries in the Asia Pacific.

The APCOVE Advisory Committee includes animal and public health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), and World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

Risk to Australia

Strengthening the capacity of the countries in our neighbourhood also protects Australia from emerging infectious diseases.

There is a significant risk of the spread of transboundary and emerging infectious diseases to Australia as these organisms do not obey national borders. For example, initially starting in one province of China, African swine fever (ASF) spread to several countries in Southeast Asia within a year and decimated the pig population. Australia is at high risk from the incursion of ASF, as its virus fragments have been detected in more than 200 samples of pork products taken from airline passengers and from mail centres. Similarly, foot and mouth disease (FMD) is present in many Southeast Asian countries. It has been estimated that a large multi-state FMD outbreak will cause a loss of around $50 billion to the Australian economy.

The potential impact that transboundary animal diseases can cause by entering Australia is huge. By strengthening the capacity of the veterinary workforce in Southeast Asia to contain diseases at their source, we can help protect Australia from their devastating impact. 

First Project (2020-2023)

APCOVE works with country partners to strengthen their existing on-the-job training programs for veterinarians in outbreak investigation and surveillance. In the first project completed in June 2023, APCOVE conducted the following activities:

  1. Developed 36 quality eLearning modules and case studies on outbreak investigation, surveillance, data analysis, risk analysis, One Health, biosecurityleadership and communication. All modules were translated into five languages.

  2. Trained veterinarians from each target country in field veterinary epidemiology through online teaching, hands-on applied projects and visiting fellowships to Australia.

  3. Built the capacity of facilitators and mentors in epidemiology, leadership and modern pedagogical methods to ensure the effective delivery of existing training programs.

  4. Strengthened networks between local experts.

Second Project (2024-2028)

This project started in June 2024. Leveraging the partnerships developed during the first project, this project aims to enhance the capabilities of the animal health workforce in the region to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks. This will be achieved  by conducting four activities:

  1. Applied field epidemiology training in Laos, Cambodia, PNG, and Timor Leste through in-person training in outbreak investigation and simulation exercises.

  2. Intermediate field epidemiology training in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia through the APCOVE online training package and in-country mentored field projects.

  3. One Health training in eight countries involving multiple sectors.

  4. Epidemiology teacher and mentorship training to improve the quality of veterinary graduates and field epidemiology trainees.

Transboundary and emerging infectious diseases

Transboundary and emerging infectious diseases are increasing in incidence due to a range of factors including rapid population growth, urbanisation, land use change, encroachment of wild habitats and increasing global air travel. These diseases can spread rapidly across borders and can have huge economic and health impacts.

It is now well known that about three quarters of these emerging infectious diseases, such as Nipah, SARS and avian influenza originate from animal populations. The infectious agents usually circulate in wildlife and domestic animals before spilling over to the human population. Therefore, it is critical to look for these diseases in animal populations before they get a chance to spill over to the human population.

Developing capacity in conducting animal disease surveillance will help to detect emerging infectious diseases in animals before they have a chance to spread to humans. Strengthening capacity in investigating and managing disease outbreaks will help to halt their spread, thus preventing their devastating impacts on health, economy and food security.