Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Surveillance and prevention in West Africa
PI - Gary Kobinger

The Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus (CCHF) is the most widely spread tick-borne pathogen, with cases occurring in Africa, the Middle-East, Eastern Europe as well as Asia. Livestock are amplifying species in CCHF circulation in endemic areas. As a result, individuals caring for or butchering livestock are at higher risk of disease acquisition. Despite CCHF substantial case fatality and broad geographical distribution, there are no specific treatments. Furthermore, the only specific vaccine, an inactivated one, is only approved in Bulgaria due to the associated safety concerns.

Using funds from two Canadian agencies, namely the Department of Foreign Affairs and the International Development Research Center, we are tackling both CCHF surveillance and transmission. First, using a One-Health approach, we are training scientists in West Africa (Mauritania, Ivory Coast) in the detection and sequencing of CCHF isolates from human, livestock and tick samples. Second, we are testing the ability of two DNA vaccines to prevent CCHF infection in livestock. One vaccine encodes for CCHF glycoproteins, while the second vaccine aims at preventing ticks infestation by encoding a gut antigen from ticks.

By building diagnostic capacity for humans, animals and tick vectors, this project will provide a better understanding of CCHF circulation and provide novel CCHF isolate sequences to improve future diagnostic assays and vaccines. Our livestock immunization trial will also provide an affordable means of reducing CCHF transmission to at-risk populations in West Africa.

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