Veterinary Surveillance of Rift Valley Fever


The general objective is to provide Member States with the capacity to detect, monitor, contain and control RVF and support the build up of competence in the use of modern biotechnology, including molecular and serological methods and technologies.


In this Coordinated Research Project (CRP) it is intended to focus on improving the diagnostic capacities of Member States. This is to be achieved by evaluating, validating and standardising existing and newly developed serological tests for the surveillance of RVF and by introducing and transferring suitable molecular as well as isotopic technologies for virus detection. Genomic and genetic techniques will allow for rapid and early virus detection and genetic typing, without the risks of accidental laboratory infection. This should enable participants of the CRP to use harmonised protocols and procedures, and to exchange their research data and findings. The implementation of validated serological techniques (for example ELISA) will help to determine the RVF sero-conversion status of individual animals and herds, while the molecular techniques will assist in the rapid and early detection of virus to enable the timely implementation of quarantine and control measures, including the differentiation between vaccine and field strains. This CRP was developed in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was directed by the conclusions and recommendations of the FAO/IAEA International Symposium on Applications of Gene-based Technologies for Improving Animal Production and Health in Developing Countries, held from 6-10 October 2003 in Vienna, Austria.

The first RCM will be held in 2005 and the CSIs awarded with Research Contracts and the Agreement Holders will be invited to participate. The focus will be on the introduction of the diagnostic tests, molecular techniques and the statistical tools to the counterparts. The database for RVF epidemiology and the future prediction models will be initiated. The individual work programmes will be evaluated, adjusted and finalised. This planning meeting will also formulate recommendations on the technical and implementation aspects of the CRP.
Research Contract holders will establish their research programmes and adhere to nuclear laboratory practices as required. Diagnostic tests will be run in parallel using field samples and stored samples from former outbreaks. Resulting data will be analysed for the intrinsic characteristics of the tests. Countries experiencing RVF outbreaks should collect blood samples from infected animals and run them in a RT-PCR, evaluate the results and store the PCR products for further PCR sequencing. Outbreak data (climatic, clinical, pathological, etc) should be collected in a database to serve as baseline for prediction models. In collaboration with FAO, a Geographic Positioning System will also be used to give exact locations of outbreaks.
Expected outcome:

  • Harmonisation of serological diagnostic procedures (sample collection, testing, data analysis, etc).
  • The evaluation of the use of the iELISA formats using local serum banks and field sera.
  • Counterparts trained to implement quality assured (QA) molecular diagnostic techniques.
  • Protocols introduced to perform RT-PCR and PCR-sequencing and safe handling of isotopes.
  • Recombinant antigens evaluated and the rcELISA introduced with technical contract holders.
  • Surveillance protocol designed to facilitate early detection of RVF.
  • Agreement on QA criteria and material reached.

The second RCM will be held in 2007 to review the results from the first phase, adapt and finalize the protocols, and focus on problems encountered and their solutions. The design of the RVF-database, linkage to global early warning systems and identification of  future inputs necessary will be discussed and developed.


[Download pdf]


  • Report on the First RCM, Dakar, Senegal, 3-7 October 2005. [Download pdf]

Project Officer:

G. Viljoen