THEME

Outbreak Research Team

As an institute dealing with tropical illness, ITM has always responded to acute outbreaks of new or known pathogens. This stretches from our long-standing and continued involvement in sleeping sickness outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to the 2017-2018 cholera outbreak in the DRC as well as the Zika and Ebola outbreaks of past years. In a highly interconnected world it is vital that the Institute continues to develop its outbreak research capacity.
 
Our interdisciplinary outbreak researchers will enhance the understanding of what drives transmission and spread of outbreak-prone diseases, design and evaluate methods and models for early detection , as well as designing outbreak prevention and control intervention strategies. The team of nine specialists is always on stand-by to do research interventions in outbreaks worldwide.

This research is made possible by the support of the Flemish Ministry of Economy, Sciences and Innovation (EWI). EWI is contributing €2,5 million over a three year period.

Partners

We can’t do it alone! ITM is partnering with the following international institutions for outbreak research.

Projects

Risk evaluation

  • BELGIUM: Monitoring of exotic mosquito species
  • DRC: Aedes and arboviruses pilot surveillance
  • BURKINA FASO: population-based incidence rates of invasive salmonellosis

Drivers of Transmission

  • Sexual transmission Zika virus
  • CUBA: Importance of human mobility within arbovirus transmission
  • DRC: epidemiologic tracing multidrug resistant Salmonella Typhi by whole genome sequencing
  • DRC: Ebola reservoir (post outbreak investigation Likati EBOV outbreak 2017)

Development and validation of new diagnostic tools

  • Multiplex systems for arboviruses
  • Field-adapted, low cost diagnostic tests for invasive bacterial infections (blood cultures, rapid diagnostic test)
  • Molecular diagnosis (DNA detection) of bloodstream infections
  • ZIKAplan: ITM is also member of the EU-funded ZIKAplan (Preparedness Latina America Network) project. ZIKAplan unites 25 leading research and public health organisations from Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia and Europe to fight the Zika virus and build long-term outbreak response capacity in Latin America. ITM researchers work on new diagnostics for the Zika virus as members of the Platform for Diagnostics Innovation and Evaluation

Outbreak investigations

  • DRC: cholera – ITM mission/GOARN mission

Capacity building

  • ALERRT: ITM is part of the EDCTP-funded African coaLition for Epidemic Research, Response and Training (ALERRT). ALERRT is a multi-disciplinary consortium building a patient-centred clinical research network to respond to epidemics across Sub-Saharan Africa. In ALERRT, ITM researchers contribute to building clinical research capacity in Africa. They also focus on increasing operational readiness and data management.

Member profiles