The first Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS) Summer School was jointly organized by SACIDS and the London International Development Centre (LIDC) with the aim of guiding the way forward for related training activities in the Southern African Counties. The summer school theme was ‘Ecology of infectious diseases, drivers of future infectious disease threats, changing patterns of global health and biosafety”.
This international training activity brought together postgraduate students from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), University of Zambia (UNZA), Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (FELTP) and Afrique One. With the exception of FELTP participants, the remaining students were MSc. students sponsored by Wellcome Trust funded SACIDS and Afrique One consortia.
The training brought students from Zambia, Botswana, and DRC and Tanzania with a wide variety of professional backgrounds ranging from medical doctors, veterinarians, wildlife experts, public health specialists, laboratory scientists as well as environmental specialists.
They had a chance to exchange ideas under the common denominator of One Health. The diseases discussed during the summer school included malaria, tuberculosis, African swine fever (ASF), foot and mouth disease (FMD) both in formal lectures as well as practical activities.
Practical training on mosquito and environmental sampling methods included:
- Collection methods for adult mosquitoes including light traps, resting boxes, sentinel traps and pyrethrum spray catch;
- Collection method for larval mosquitoes;
- Recording environmental data relating to both adult and larval habitat, and
- Hatching of mosquitoes and use of morphological keys for mosquito identification.
The Summer School coincided with an outbreak of ASF in Ruaha of Kilosa districts. Students and faculty members travelled to Ruaha to witness, learn and discuss aspects of disease ecology, biosafety and sampling. Samples were collected from pigs that were found slaughtered by a farmer and transported to SUA. At SUA, students performed DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction and partial automated dideoxynucleotide sequencing of the C-terminus of the major capsid protein p72 encoded by the B646L gene. Obtained ASFV p72 nucleotide sequences were 100% identical with the Georgia 2007/1 ASFV isolate.
Bioinformatic analysis of the Ruaha ASFV p72 nucleotide sequence grouped it into genotype II, a genotype that has been described to circulate in Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Georgia and Russia and never previously reported in Tanzania.
The Summer School brought experts from MUHAS, National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Royal Veterinary College (RVC) – University Of London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UNZA, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Agricultural Research Council – Onderstepoort Veterenary Institute (ARC-OVI), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SUA.
The rich international mix of Faculty members and participants re-enforced the knowledge already gained at their Universities.