Your mail*



Unza Dons develop a new instrument for testing Ebola Virus.


Researchers at the University of Zambia in the School of Veterinary Medicine in conjunction with their counterparts at the Center for Zoonosis Control, Hokkaido University, Japan have developed a new tool for testing Ebola Virus. One of the designers Dr Katendi Changula reported at the recent media briefing held in Senate Chamber of the University of Zambia that “….the new instrument can test Ebola viruses in 10 minutes as compared to the current tests which takes several hours for a patient to know the results”. The researchers hope that the kit will be approved as an Ebola rapid test kit by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The actual instrument developed look similar to the image below.

In a media briefing presentation tagged ‘Are Ebola and Marburg Virus Diseases a Threat to Zambia?’, Dr Katendi Changula (Presenter) and others including Masahiro Kajihara, Akina Mori, Ngonda Saasa, Edgar Simulundu, John Yabe, Ladslav Moonga, Joseph Ndebe, Aaron S. Mweene and Ayato Takada of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zambia, Great East Road Campus reported that ebolaviruses and marburgviruses are viruses that cause diseases called Ebola virus disease (EVD) and Marburg virus disease (MVD), respectively. These diseases are called zoonoses, as they are transmitted from animals to humans. Bats are thought to be the source of this infection, while non-human primates (e.g. chimpanzees, monkeys, gorillas) can also acquire the disease. Once the disease has been introduced into the human population, it is transmitted from person to person through contact with the infected bodily fluids. These diseases have similar symptoms: fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, shock and death. There might be massive haemorrhages in some cases. These can result in deaths of up to 90 percent of the people infected with the disease. There has been an increase in the incidence of outbreaks of these diseases in Africa in the last twenty years.

Whilst there has been no report yet of these diseases in Zambia there are several reasons why it may be at risk:

1. Studies looking at ecological conditions which would favour the presence of these diseases and the animals that may harbour them have shown that the distribution of the viruses may be wider than previously thought and may include Zambia.

2. The proximity of Zambia to countries which have recorded major outbreaks increases risk of exposure of human populations to infected people and/or animals due to the increase in travel to and from areas that have the disease.

 3. An increasing population with an increasing demand for resources has forced people into previously uninhabited land (e.g for agriculture, mining, hunting), potentially bringing them into contact with these viruses.

4. Wildlife trade in non-human primates and bats can also increase the risk of outbreaks.

5. Between mid-October and late December each year, major straw-coloured fruit bat colonies migrate in the Central Province of Zambia from central Africa. No viruses have been isolated from these bats, but antibodies to these viruses have been detected.

 The University of Zambia, through the School of Veterinary Medicine, is working to mitigate these threats in conjunction with the government and other collaborating partners. Our research is focused on detection, identification and monitoring of these diseases. Surveillance in wildlife is an ongoing activity, in conjunction with the Zambia Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries. In addition, we are the designated laboratory for diagnosis of suspected human cases of Ebola virus disease in Zambia, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. So far ebolaviruses and marburgviruses have not been detected in Zambia. The research team is also working on the development of simple diagnostic tests that can rapidly detect Ebola and Marburg virus diseases without the need for sophisticated equipment.

 Related publications by the authors:

1. Changula, K., M. Kajihara, A. S. Mweene, and A. Takada. 2014. Ebola and Marburg virus diseases in Africa: Increased risk of outbreaks in previously unaffected areas? Microbiology and Immunology, 58, (9), 483-491.

2. Changula, K., R. Yoshida, O. Noyori, A. Marzi, H. Miyamoto, M. Ishijima, A. Yokoyama, M. Kajihara, H. Feldmann, A. S. Mweene, and A. Takada. 2013. Mapping of conserved and species-specific antibody epitopes on the Ebola virus nucleoprotein. Virus Research, 176, (1-2), 83-90.

3. Ogawa, H., H. Miyamoto, E. Nakayama, R. Yoshida, I. Nakamura, H. Sawa, A. Ishii, Y. Thomas, E. Nakagawa, K. Matsuno, M. Kajihara, J. Maruyama, N. Nao, M. Muramatsu, M. Kuroda, E. Simulundu, K. Changula, B. Hang'ombe, B. Namangala, A. Nambota, J. Katampi, M. Igarashi, K. Ito, H. Feldmann, C. Sugimoto, L. Moonga, A. Mweene, and A. Takada. 2015. Seroepidemiological Prevalence of Multiple Species of Filoviruses in Fruit Bats (Eidolon helvum) Migrating in Africa. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 212 Suppl 2, S101-S108.





Copyright © 2014 PReSTID. All Rights Reserved.
PReSTID promotes and supports Research Uptake, Communication and Utilisation in Zambia.