Lines of Research


Mycobacteriosis (tuberculosis and paratuberculosis)

The studies are focused mainly on tuberculosis and paratuberculosis. These two diseases are the main mycobacterioses that affect both domestic animals and wildlife. Tuberculosis is a zoonosis and there is an official eradication programme aimed at bovine tuberculosis. However, paratuberculosis is not subject to official programmes but has a huge economic impact on livestock farms. Neiker’s lines of work in this field are from the study of the pathogenesis to more practical aspects, such as the improvement of diagnostic techniques and disease control.

Vectors and transmitted diseases

We study the distribution of species of arthropod vectors of diseases transmitted to domestic and wild animals and humans that are present in the Basque Country and carry out active monitoring for the possible entry of any species that have not yet been introduced into our region. There is a wide range of viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi that are transmitted effectively by different types of vectors, as a result of which the implementation of rapid detection methods is of great interest.

Safety at the bottom of the food chain

We explores the role of primary production, the bottom of the food chain, in the production of healthy, safe food. We use bacteriological and molecular techniques for the detection, isolation and characterisation of the four major food-borne bacterial pathogens (Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Listeria monocytogenes and verotoxigenic E. coli ) on livestock farms. We test control methods and carry out epidemiological monitoring programmes on farms in the Basque Country to determine their prevalence, evaluate trends and measure the effect of the control measures.

Zoonoses and other diseases

We explore the epidemiology, diagnosis and control of some zoonoses which impact on human and animal health, such as Q fever, echinococcosis, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, bovine tuberculosis, among other processes, some of them considered to be emerging. In addition, we have been working on lentivirosis and reproductive pathology of domestic ruminants, both by conducting epidemiological studies and improving techniques for their diagnosis, which is a challenge to improve the competitiveness and economic performance of the livestock sector and maintain the health of our livestock herd at an advanced position similar to other European countries.

Health surveillance of wildlife

The implementation of plans to monitor disease in wildlife is one of the essential tools for the epidemiological study of diseases of interest, both for being a zoonotis (transmitted to humans) and for meaning a significant impact on domestic species (shared diseases between domestic and wild animals). We are studying diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis, yersiniosis and hydatid disease, among others. To do this. we have developed specific diagnosis techniques for wildlife, determined the species involved in their epidemiology, early detection of potential sources and the start of the immediate response, also evaluating the risk of transmission to people or domestic animals.