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Institute of Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases (INNT

Strengthening of the Mauritanian partner laboratory (ONARDEP) to become a veterinary science and training hub in West Africa (AA Sub Sahara IV)


Duration: 01.01.2023 – 31.12.2025

Funding: Federal Foreign Office

Within the framework of this project, in close collaboration with our Mauritanian partner institute ONARDEP (Office National de Recherches et de Développement de l'Elevage et du Pastoralisme), research is being conducted on the occurrence of highly pathogenic zoonoses such as Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) in Mauritania. The prospect of intentional or unintentional introduction and release of such pathogens in Europe poses a considerable threat potential and health risk to humans and animals. RVF and CCHF viruses have been classified as biosafety level 3 and 4 agents due to their potential to cause fatal infections in humans and the lack of a reliable therapy or vaccine. Even though it is common belief that such pathogens are present in large parts of Africa, concrete data on their actual occurrence is still scarcely available. Consequently, this is where this project will set its focus. The viruses that circulate in livestock, mosquitoes and ticks are to be identified and subsequently characterised by specifically analysing competent vectors and their hosts. The project, which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office, is currently in its fourth funding phase. For this reason, we can look back on a long and successful scientific collaboration with our African partners. While the first two project phases (2014-2019) focused on identifying potential risk areas in the partner countries Mauritania, Cameroon and Sierra Leone, in the last project phase (2020-2022) the focus was set on implementing MinION sequencing in the partner laboratories. This technology enables rapid on-site sequencing and characterisation of positive field samples, which requires relatively little effort compared to other next-generation sequencing methods. The aim of the current funding phase is to further strengthen the collaboration with ONARDEP and the diagnostic capacities of the partner laboratory in the field of veterinary research (with emphasis on MERSV, WNV and MinION sequencing). Another focus, in pursuit of the One Health approach, will be on intensifying the collaboration with the Mauritanian public health institute (INRSP (Institut National de Recherche en Santé Publique)). The aim of these activities, which are being carried out in close collaboration with the IMB Munich, is to establish both Mauritanian institutions as training hubs for the Sahel G5 countries and to strengthen the response and prevention capacities regarding biosafety and biosecurity aspects in Mauritania. The already existing international scientific networks, which have grown continuously over the past years as a result of the close cooperation of all participating institutions, are to be further expanded through the increased use of the e-learning platform "Go4BSB" of the German Biosecurity Programme. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, it became apparent that conducting online workshops on the platform can be a useful tool for knowledge transfer and scientific exchange despite contact restrictions.





Further information on the programme:


Link to the English flyer of the German Biosecurity Programme:

Flyer (in german language)
Faltflyer (in german language)

INNT scientists involved:

Dr. Martin Eiden
Dr. Kerstin Fischer
Dr. Balal Sadeghi
Dr. Markus Keller
Prof. Dr. Martin H. Groschup

Postdocs involved:

Dr. F. Stoek
Dr. A. Schulz
F. Bergmann