Aula Janssens, Campus Rochus, Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp)Show route
Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks mostly emerge in Central and West Africa from where they pose major threats to the global health and security. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has faced fifteen outbreaks, among which the 2018-2020 was the most widespread and deadliest so far. The particular context of this outbreak was marked by chronic armed conflict and community mistrust and resistance, which further exacerbated during the 2018-2019 presidential elections. The Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) deployed field laboratories to support EVD diagnosis across the affected provinces.
In the first part of this PhD thesis, we showed how decentralized and strategically positioned field laboratories helped to quickly mitigate the risk of Ebola virus spread, to enable teams in the organization of a well-structured response in the field, and to provide efficient and accurate diagnostic tools used in routine testing, for hematological and biochemical testing in patients under specific therapeutics, and finally also for survivors’ follow-up.
We further show that the implementation of genomic sequencing capacity provided a real-time dissemination of viral genomic data to guide public health decision-making (i.e. orientation of epidemiological investigations, contact tracing, preemptive vaccination of contacts and frontline workers, determination of unknown transmission chains and sources of infection), to understand the dynamics of virus spread within the community, and to help adapt strategies for outbreak control and medical countermeasures.
In the second part of this PhD, we report on the largest-ever diagnostic performance study of Ebola virus Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) in outbreak conditions and discuss on the feasibility of RDT use at the point of care and for postmortem surveillance.
Prof. Dr. Kevin Ariën (ITM/ University of Antwerp)
Prof. Dr. Johan Van Griensven (ITM)
Prof. Dr. Steve Ahuka-Mundeke (Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB), DRC)
Defence: 4pm – 6pm
Reception: 6pm – 7:30pm
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