Viral disease of humans and animals

We contribute towards the reduction in morbidity and mortality due to emerging and re-emerging viral disease epidemics of humans and animals in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through improving the understanding and prevention/control strategies of the viral infectious disease of epidemic potential in the region.

Africa hosts abundant wildlife and arthropod populations with the potential of transmitting Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (VHFs) and arthropod-borne viral diseases. Migration of wild animals and birds, frequent unchecked movements of people, animals and animal products across the national borders pose an additional threat in the spread of infectious diseases. Unfortunately, the region has a relatively low capacity for risk management of disease epidemics, mainly due to inadequate resources for early detection, identification, and prompt response

It is thus important to understand the dynamics of viral epidemics of humans and animals within the diversity of the ecosystems, and socio-economic practices of the peoples of East, Central and Southern Africa. Conducting studies on the dynamics of the people, animals, vectors, pathogens and the environment is vital to this understanding and may help guide national authorities on preparedness and response strategies

Preparing for the next pandemic

Emerging and re-emerging viral diseases threaten not only human health, but also social and economic well-being. Until recently, the burden of viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) and mosquito-borne viral diseases (MBVDs) in Southern Africa have received little attention. Early detection and diagnosis are key to triggering an effective response to infectious disease epidemics for community-level health security that progressively influences national, regional, and global health security. The capacity of the health systems in the region to address viral epidemics is insufficient, partly because of a lack of low-cost and easily accessible diagnostic infrastructures. Furthermore, clinical manifestations of the diseases are largely unspecific, and easily misdiagnosed as other common diseases such as malaria and typhoid fever because of high degree of overlapping. This programme focus to build regional capacity, based on these four pillars

One health Approach

One health Approach

Biosafety and Biosecurity

Biosafety and Biosecurity

Low cost Point of Care diagnostics

Low cost Point of Care diagnostics

Early detection and diagnosis

Early detection and diagnosis

Working hypothesis for the programme

The factors affecting the occurrence of emerging, re-emerging viral zoonotic diseases are influenced by complex interactions between the host, the pathogen, the vector, and the natural and social environment. As such, the continuous interactions between humans, animals and the environment facilitate the maintenance and spread of these diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa. Programme activities include

  • Epidemiological and ecological studies
  • Risk assessment algorithms for viral epidemic diseases
  • Assess populations vulnerability
  • Vector competence and transmission dynamics

Using integrative technology-driven disease surveillance tools to enhance the efficiency of epidemic intelligence

Applying AI to predict trends and provide real-time monitoring, control and management of infectious disease outbreaks

Prospective independent both population and facility studies will be implemented in selected ecosystems that in the SACIDS member countries.

The prevalence and associated drivers and burden of the viral epidemic diseases in the study areas is not sufficiently known.

We will conduct socioecological system framework analysis of viral epidemics at both national, district and facility levels.

We will determine the burden of the diseases, their role in febrile illnesses in humans, and their potential for emerging epidemic threats by defining their epidemiology and immunopathogenesis.

We will carry out studies to identify previously unknown viral causes of febrile illnesses in humans and the animal sources of viral or other disease-causing pathogens. With support from the Genomic Group, collected sera will be examined for evidence of recent or past infection from selected viruses using commercially available specific serological methods and molecular techniques

we conduct genomic surveillance of pathogens of public and animal health importance including antimicrobial resistance for the purpose of monitoring pathogen evolution, conduct pathogen discovery and understand disease epidemiology. This work is useful in detecting emerging and re-emerging disease threats, development of genomic-based diagnostics, understanding host-pathogen interaction and development of vaccines. Our expertise in pathogen genomic surveillance is useful for outcome-driven research programmes

We exploit the power of genomics and metagenomics to develop affordable, rapid, field-deployable and fit-for-purpose diagnostics for single and multiplex detection of pathogens. We will do this by focusing on viral hemorrhagic fevers, arboviruses, transboundary animal diseases and new viruses. We develop serological-based assay in order to support vaccine development and monitor the exposure of humans animals to pathogens.

We conduct in vitro and in vivo studies to understand the relationship between pathogens and their host/ reservoirs. This enables our understanding of disease pathogenesis, differential gene expression in hosts after infection, host-vector microbiome interactions and the influence of epigenetic factors in disease development. Our work focuses on transboundary animal diseases and arboviruses

We identify vaccine candidates, conduct vaccine matching and epitope mapping with particular focus on specific transboundary animal diseases, arboviruses and new viruses of public and animal health importance. We partner with the Pirbright Institute, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the industry to conduct genomic assessment of vaccine strains in their different vaccine produced batches.

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