Studentship: Development and application of FMD real-time surveillance tools in Tanzania

Lead Research Organisation: The Pirbright Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED

Abstract

Foot-and-mouth disease Virus is an economically important picornavirus circulating in 77% of global livestock. Foot- and-mouth disease (FMD) costs 5 billion US$ globally in production losses and control measures, which are greatest in Africa. Tanzania has the third largest livestock production industry in Africa, however cannot exploit its market worldwide as FMD is endemic with the presence of four of the six African serotypes. Despite this, knowledge surrounding the epidemiological spatial and temporal diversity of currently circulating serotypes is not well understood. The lack of this ‘real time’ molecular data is inhibitory to Tanzania co-ordinating control of FMDV and as such they do not currently practice vaccination. Recent tantalising data suggests that FMD outbreaks occur as continuous repeating patterns of alternating serotypes. If true this suggests that infection cycles may be predictable and thus opens up the possibility for control. This project will test the hypothesis that FMD outbreaks in Tanzania are predictable by developing and deploying into the field penside molecular serotype specific diagnostics. This PhD project will sit within the VDRL with the objectives directly supporting its role to develop enhanced virological tests for field diagnostics in endemic areas and also countries moving towards elimination. In addition this work will add value to the interests of the University of Glasgow in the epidemiology and control of endemic livestock diseases in East Africa, as well as the BBSRC CIDLID project by extending the scope of research through the application of next generation detection technologies to historical samples.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Coordination of OIE twinning project in Ethiopia on field diagnostics
Geographic Reach Africa 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Use of milk for FMDV surveillance in endemic settings
Amount $120,000 (USD)
Organisation Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 09/2016 
End 06/2017
 
Description Prevelance of FMDV in milk samples from northern Tanzania 
Organisation Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology
Country Tanzania, United Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Laboratory testing of milk samples collected from a previously funded BBSRC CIDLID project within Northern Tanzania.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of the above samples to The Pirbright Institute. This was arranged by Dr Tiziana Lembo.
Impact Laboratory data (molecular characterisation) on the prevalence of FMDV within this region and timeframe in Northern Tanzania.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Prevelance of FMDV in milk samples from northern Tanzania 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Laboratory testing of milk samples collected from a previously funded BBSRC CIDLID project within Northern Tanzania.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of the above samples to The Pirbright Institute. This was arranged by Dr Tiziana Lembo.
Impact Laboratory data (molecular characterisation) on the prevalence of FMDV within this region and timeframe in Northern Tanzania.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Understanding the prevalance of FMDV in pooled milk samples from Tanzania 
Organisation Sokoine University of Agriculture
Country Tanzania, United Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Laboratory testing of milk samples using a selection of diagnostic tests.
Collaborator Contribution 200 milk samples were provided by Dr Christopher Kasanga for testing at The Pirbright Institute
Impact On-going
Start Year 2016
 
Description Validation of moleculars methods for detection of FMDV in milk samples from endemic regions 
Organisation Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Laboratory testing of milk samples and establishing sampling methods within endemic regions.
Collaborator Contribution Financial contribution for validation of US molecular method benchmarked against UK molecular methods for identifying FMDV within milk samples.
Impact On-going
Start Year 2016
 
Description Engaging with schools (Garthhill College) in the importance and practical use of simple on-farm diagnostics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Because aspects of my role are applied and not undertaken in a typical laboratory setting, I see great opportunity to engage with diverse audiences to help counter the stereotypes associated with 'being a scientist' and in particular to encourage young people to consider a career in science. In order to do this, I developed a novel engagement exercise called Outbreak Alert-How quickly can you identify the pathogen?, which I used very successfully at a school outreach at Garthill College This approach helps to communicate serious science through a fun and interactive experience. This exercise involves setting up a toy farm with a mixture of 'sick' animals displaying signs of FMD (painted mouths and feet) and healthy ones. Placed on these animals, along with animals which are healthy are tubes containing harmless bacteria. I introduce the activity by providing a short description of foot and mouth disease (FMD) and then encouraging participants to reflect and use the information they have learnt to identify and 'test' the animals they think are 'sick'. At the school I provided real biosecurity gear and used a real test kit to help make it as fun and realistic as possible. The participants then interpreted their findings and feed back to the rest of the group to say whether the animals they had selected had FMD or not, and how they planned to stop the disease from spreading further. The diagnostic test is a simple on-farm kit which we have developed for FMD, but in this scenario was detecting bacteria instead. Following the practical session the 14 year 10 students prepared a bulletin which was circulated to the rest of the school by the head of science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Participation in the 'BBSRC intelligent sensing systems for early detection of animal and plant pathogen' workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Attendance and participation in a workshop aimed at brining together a multidisciplinary community to explore development and deployment of intelligent sensing systems for early, fast, reliable and systematic detection of animal and plant health threats.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/events/2017/1702-intelligent-sensing-systems-early-detection-animal-plan...
 
Description Pirbright Pride 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Represented WRLFMD at The Pirbright Institutes open day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Soapbox science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Veronica Fowler's presentation for Soapbox Science 2016 proved a hit with the crowds on London's Southbank with help from her PhD students - and Daisy the cow!
Dozens of fascinated people gathered round Veronica's Soapbox during the event and some brave volunteers donned biosecurity gear so they could get involved and help identify and 'test' the sick animals on the farm; using a real diagnostics test (albeit for a harmless pathogen)!

Dr Fowler had painted some of the toy animals so they were showing clinical signs of infection with foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), which the volunteers had to identify based on the description Dr Fowler had given during her Soapbox talk.

Optigene Ltd, (a company that partners with the Institute in the production of diagnostic tests for FMDV), provided their Genie II field based diagnostic platform and real testing kits (for a harmless pathogen) for the event, so Dr Fowler could make the testing exercise as authentic as possible.The fun approach helped Dr Fowler explain the serious science behind the need for rapid detection and control of viral diseases such as FMDV, which the Institute is world renowned for.

"The event went incredibly well", said Dr Fowler, "and gave me the opportunity to explain about FMDV and show practically why LAMP tests (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification), as we used with the volunteers at Soapbox, are so vital in helping us confirm disease rapidly thereby limiting the spread of such highly infectious diseases. "The tests we used also enabled me to demonstrate how accessible they are; showing that they don't need to be performed by specialised personnel in dedicated laboratories", she said.
Dr Fowler was selected from over 40 applicants, and joined eleven other female scientists at the event to showcase their science and enthuse the public about their research. Soapbox Science aims to engage the public about science and eliminate gender inequality by raising the profile, and challenging the public's view, of women and science.
"Getting out of the lab and engaging people about the science we do is much more than sharing our knowledge and expertise", said Dr Fowler. "It's also about changing perceptions, enthusing the scientists of the future - and learning ourselves.

"We had an amazing day at Soapbox and I was so impressed by the insightful and challenging questions I was asked, especially by some of the young people. For example one of the young girls who got involved with the testing of the 'sick' animals said she wanted to do a course in Epidemiology when she left school, and she couldn't have been any older than thirteen.

"It was really nice to see that people learnt something tangible from the science we were showcasing, which is exactly what I'd hoped for. I think engagement like this helps make me a better scientist, and I'd encourage other science colleagues at the Institute to get involved. "I'm always happy to offer any advice based on the experiences I've had and I'd certainly recommend Soapbox Science to other women scientists considering applying next year", Dr Fowler said.
Daisy was a big attraction on the day, and as a special treat Dr Fowler and friends took her on a tour of London; promoting Soapbox Science and the Institute as they went!

"I'm hugely grateful to my fantastic PhD students; Emma Howson and Bryony Armson (and my friend Kay Sellers) for their support and help in transporting Daisy to the event and to Optigene Ltd for loaning me the Genie II and the diagnostic tests", Dr Fowler said.

See more pictures from the event and Daisy's London tour below. For more details about the event visit the Soapbox Science website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://soapboxscience.org/openness-to-the-public-meet-veronica-fowler/
 
Description Training course in molecular methods for FMDV detection 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A training course was delivered to undergraduate students at Sokoine University of Agriculture in molecular detection methods for FMDV.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Webinar: Use of milk for FMD surveillance in endemic settings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact A webinar was delivered to a diverse audience to outline the possibilities for surveillance of FMDV using bulk milk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017