Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is febrile dengue-like disease of man caused by strains of a nairovirus (Bunyaviridae family) of the CCHF serogroup. This tick-borne zoonosis is an important human disease in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and most of Africa. The health impact of CCHF in Africa is unknown; the disease is probably underdiagnosed This is partly because of the lack of commercially available diagnostic: kits. Serological tests can be carried out by a few laboratories but are hazardous because live virus is used, and are frequently unreliable in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Rapid tests for directly detecting the virus are not available. The project aims to establish rapid diag- . nostic methods for the detection of CCHF virus infections, and to develop a vaccine. Diagnost coprobes and reagents will be produced using recombinant DNA technology based on the cloning and sequencing of the small- (S) and medium- (M) sized RNA segments of the tripartite nairovirus genome. Primers and probes will be designed that can rapidly and specifically detect CEHF viral RNA in blood and tissue samples, and in vector ticks. Early diagnosis of disease in humans is essential for the prognosis of the patient and for hospital staff who need to protect against nosocomial infections. Recombinant proteins derived from the viral nucleoprotein and glycoprotein will be used in immunoassays for detection of antibodies in human and non-human sera. Diagnostic tests will be performed in the collaborating African laboratories and established as routine procedures for screening human populations, and identifying and monitoring enzootic foci. Training in reagent preparation and diagnostic techniques will be provided by the proposers. The reagents and techniques employed will reduce the health risk of exposure to CCHF virus during diagnostic cedures. Experimental protection studies undertaken with the collaborating African laboratories will employ recombinant proteins and non-pathoaenic nairoviruses to assess their potential as vaccines. This work will assess
the feasibility of targeted immunisation of high risk group in both human and livestock podulations, and the control of human exposure to virus infected ticks.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
OX1 3SR Oxford