BURUNDI – The Republic of Burundi has teamed up with the One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa (OHRECA) to step up the country’s capacity to respond to health emergencies amid its first Rift Valley fever (RVF) outbreak.

In April 2022, Burundi reported confirmed cases of Rift Valley fever in Muyinga, Ngozi and Kirundo provinces in the northeast of the country.

The East African Community (EAC) also issued an alert asking its member states to step up surveillance for infectious diseases, including RVF, after the heavy rains that had occurred in the region.

The Burundi Rift Valley fever Task Force has partnered with OHRECA and the Regional Integrated Agricultural Development in the Great Lakes (PRDAIGL) projects to control the further spread of the contagious viral disease amid the outbreak in the east African country.

The Burundi RVF Task Force, in collaboration with OHRECA and PRDAIGL projects, has supported the training of five technical staff based at the veterinary laboratory, Bujumbura, on RVF virus (RVFv) diagnostics.

Burundi has worked closely with the One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa to train participants drawn from the department of Veterinary Services, the Ministry of Health, and the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU).

Rift Valley fever is a mosquito-borne zoonosis primarily affecting domestic animals (such as sheep, goats and camels). Humans get infected from direct or indirect contact with infected animals’ blood, body fluids or tissues. In humans, the disease ranges from a mild flu-like illness to a severe haemorrhagic fever that can be lethal.

One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa (OHRECA)


The training workshop funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through OHRECA targeted national officials affiliated with the institutions that constitute the Burundi RVF task force.

The One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa said that the five-day training boosted theoretical and practical skills in RVFv diagnostics and screening of the samples collected from the field.

OHRECA cautioned that the Rift Valley fever outbreak in Burundi occurred when the COVID-19 pandemic had already severely compromised the country’s capacity to respond to health emergencies, noting that Burundi had limited experience and inadequate infrastructure for deploying emergency responses.

OHRECA further said that the trainees tested blood, serum and tissue samples collected from suspected RVF cases in livestock, adding that the first day of the training covered the calibration of the Applied Biosystems real-time PCR machine.

The organization explained that the advanced machine is used to detect the DNA of interest and quantify the amount of DNA present in a sample, storage conditions for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and associated kits for sample screening, and checks for the validity of ELISA results.

In addition, the capacity-building exercise focused on extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) material for RVF screening from 100 samples comprising 82 serum, six tissue, six tissue swabs, four nasal swabs, and two vaginal swabs collected from surveillance activities.

On the third day, the trainees were taken through the procedures of running conventional and real-time PCR analyses tests on extracted RNA material,” disclosed the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)-led facility.

The organization highlighted that practical sessions involved the preparation of master mix reagents, evaluating the quality of extracted RNA, and setting agar gel electrophoresis to obtain PCR products for sequencing, adding that the trainees were taken through the interpretation of the results.

On the 4th day, training focused on preparing complementary DNA (cDNA) and preparing a master mix to obtain products for whole genome sequencing. Samples were also screened for Brucella spp for differential diagnosis of RVFv using PCR. The last day of the training was on data management,” the OHRECA said.

At the end of the training, practical recommendations for routine calibration of laboratory equipment, including pipettes, sample processing and analysis, were made.

Plans were made for whole genome sequencing for the RVF virus and Brucella spp bacteria, detected using Reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR)-a sensitive and fast test for detecting specific genetic materials within a sample,” the organization added.

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