Foot-and-Mouth Disease: CSIR shares expertise on detection and management of foot-and-mouth disease

Angelique Ingabire from Rwanda Agricultural Board and CSIR's Simone Hammersley preparing samples for real time polymerase chain reaction

The CSIR recently hosted a Southern Africa Network for Biosciences and National Research Foundation-funded Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) workshop at its Pretoria Campus. The workshop was focused on the detection and management of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in livestock.

The CSIR leads a Southern African Development Community (SADC) FMD programme as the initiator institute, in collaboration with the University of Pretoria and the Agricultural Research Council. Outside South Africa, collaborators include SADC countries (Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique) and Rwanda. FMD is endemic in these countries.

Dr Phiyani Lebea, CSIR research group leader for the Molecular Diagnostics group emphasized the importance of such a programme, “African livestock and livestock-based commodities in Southern Africa are mainly based in economically depressed rural areas. If economic activity is to be encouraged in these rural areas, biotechnology application is critical for changing the status quo. The FMD training workshop is one small step towards initiating rural livestock owners’ economic participation within the African continent”, he said.

The aim of the workshop was to brainstorm the way forward with the multinational FMD programme in each individual country as well as part of the greater collaborative effort. Student projects were also discussed in more detail regarding their focus and approach.

“FMD has serious consequences for all affected countries in terms of food security, global export restrictions and the resulting economic impact,” says CSIR Senior Researcher, Dr Natasha Beeton-Kempen. “The workshop formed part of the larger, cross-border CSIR-led FMD management programme and delegates from collaborator countries and institutions attended the workshop. Students pursuing their MSc and PhD in the field also participated.”

Angelique Ingabire from the Rwanda Agriculture Board’s Veterinary and Laboratory Services team in Rubirizi elaborated Natasha’s sentiments. “In Rwanda, FMD is endemic and loss of revenue from livestock commodities is the norm. This workshop has provided me with ways in which we can proceed and implement effective surveillance programme. It will also enable me to strengthen the Rubirizi Veterinary and Laboratory Services team in better management of livestock diseases particularly FMD,” said Angelique.

The workshop also included hands-on laboratory training in the wet lab techniques and theory relevant in FMD detection and surveillance, including sample collection, extraction, diagnosis using molecular biology techniques, etc. Delegates were also introduced to the novel detection and integrated information technology data reporting platform developed at the CSIR for this programme.

The workshop was facilitated by Phiyani and his team, the CSIR Molecular Diagnostics group.