HerpeZ

Diagnostics Research & Training in Zambia

Viral Outbreaks

Reservoirs & Vectors

There are several families of viruses that are naturally present in animal or bird species, but have the ability to cross over and infect humans. Such 'zoonoses' are rare, but the absence of pre-existing immunity in the affected human populations can result in catastrophic loss of life. This was most acutely experience in West Africa from the end of 2014 through into early 2016, when a deadly Ebola virus outbreak swept through 3 West African countries, infected 28,652 people (Suspected, Probable, and Confirmed),  with 15,261 laboratory-confirmed Cases and 11,325 deaths (CDC, Apr 2016).


In 2008 a completely novel viral hemorrhagic fever virus (LUJV) was discovered in Zambia, that infected 5 people, killing 4, including the index case and 3 healthcare workers. This novel Old World Arenavirus was the first VHF agent to be discovered in Africa since Ebola virus, some 4 decades earlier. The animal reservoir of this novel arenavirus has not been determined despite several large screening exercise in wild-caught rodents.


At HerpeZ we are collaborating with the Zambian Ministry of Health and international partners such as University College London (London, United Kingdom),  the Lazzaro Spallanzani Institute (Rome, Italy) and the Hokkaido University Research Center for Zoonosis Control (Hokkaido, Japan), to ensure that in the event of a future outbreak of LUJV, or any other emerging virus, the diagnostic capacity is in place to rapidly identify the causal agent, and to provide a rapid diagnostic response. At the centre of this response is EVOLVE, the sequencing research centre that we are building in Lusaka.

Publications

Chimpanzees: Ebola virus (EBOV) Intermediate host

Red Colobus monkeys: EBOV intermediate host

Fruit Bats: EBOV and Marburg virus (MARV) natural reservoir host.

Natal Multimammate Mouse: Reservoir host for Lassa Fever virus (LASV) and several other Old World arenaviruses

Aedes mosquitos: Vectors for various flaviviruses: (YFVDENVWNV and ZIKV)

 

Hyalomma ticks: transmit Congo-Crimean HF virus (CCHFV) from ruminants to humans

Camels: Intermediate reservoir of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus (MERS-CoV)

 

Civet cats: Reservoir hosts for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV)

Useful links