Benchtop training : advanced diagnosis and sequencing of African Swine Fever virus


The Director of the OVRI (and WOAH Expert) Dr Misheck Mulumba, delivering his welcome address. Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (woah) 2023.

The Director of the OVRI (and WOAH Expert) Dr Misheck Mulumba, delivering his welcome address. Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (woah) 2023.


Following a laboratory capacity survey conducted in April 2023, seven national reference laboratories were invited to benefit from a week long practical training on advanced diagnosis and molecular sequencing of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) at the WOAH Reference Laboratory for ASF, located at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute (OVRI) in Pretoria, South Africa (Designated Expert : Dr Livio Heath).

The beneficiary countries were Botswana, Benin, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania. These are countries with either already well-established procedures for the basic diagnosis of ASF, or possess the overall capabilities and infrastructure required to start diagnosing ASF as a result of the training.

Most of the training took place at the transboundary animal diseases (TAD) facility, a high containment facility situated at about 500 meters of the main campus, where several pathogens, many of them alien to the country, are being manipulated under BSL-3 conditions.

Besides a large number of lectures on ASF and the recommended diagnostic techniques, practical training was delivered on :

Virus Isolation and Molecular Diagnostics

  • Aseptic cell culture techniques
  • Sample processing and manual DNA Extraction
  • Automated DNA extraction and the use of portable PCR equipment for Pen-side testing
  • Real-time PCR
  • Alternative methods for sample collection
  • ASF Vectors and surveillance
  • Conventional PCR for genetic characterisation
  • PCR Clean-up
  • ASF Serology (ELISA and lateral flow devices)

Sequence Analysis and Phylogenetics      

  • Sequencing, Sequence Analysis and Phylogenetics

The training is part of the establishment of a wider network of international reference laboratories, along with regional service laboratories (non-FAO, nor WOAH accredited national reference laboratories with an interest in serving the sub-region). In order to assess the capacity of the 7 laboratories to conduct the diagnostic protocols in their own facilities, the current training will be followed by a proficiency testing round, coordinated by the OVRI in weeks to follow.

The participants from Senegal (left) and Bénin (right). Picture © P. Bastiaensen (woah) 2023.


This training was made possible thanks to the technical support of ARC-OVRI (South Africa) and CSIRO (Australia)

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