Biosurveillance and Ecology of Emerging Zoonoses (BEEZ)

Research leader: Prof. Wanda Markotter

Department of Medical Virology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria

Position: Professor/ SARChI in Infectious Diseases of Animals (Zoonoses)

Physical address: Room 2-72, Pathology Building, 5 Bophelo Road, Prinshof Campus, University of Pretoria, Corner of Steve Biko and Dr Savage St, Pretoria 0001.

Tel: +27 012 319 2353

E-mail: [email protected]



Prof. Wanda Markotter is currently the Director of the Centre for Viral Zoonoses, Department of Medical Virology, Faculty of Health Sciences. Since January 2016 she is also occupying a DSI-NRF South African Research Chair in “Infectious Diseases of Animals (Zoonoses)”. She is a virologist who has been involved in a transdisciplinary One Health research programme on disease ecology in bat species in South Africa and other African countries. She leads the Southern Africa Bat Research Network and co-chairs the One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP), and linked to several other One Health initiatives.  More than 40 postgraduate students already graduated under her supervision, and she has mentored several postdoctoral fellows and emerging researchers. She has published more than 70 scientific publications and several book chapters and regularly contribute to public media forums. Her research is supported by several multi-collaborative international viral surveillance programmes including the Global Disease Detection Programme, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Defence and Threat Reduction Agency, USA. Prof. Markotter is further involved in facilitating One Health a 

Research description 

Specifically, biosurveillance in African bats species is an important part of this programme and as the diversity of pathogens expand, it is necessary to constantly evaluate the detection capability and sensitivity of our detection assays and generate diagnostic capacity both in country but also for the region. In addition to virological testing, a transdisciplinary approach is followed that include data collection on host biology and ecological data as well as environmental to correlate with infection dynamics. High risk factors and potential contact with human and other animals are identified and mitigation strategies for prevention is implemented. Routes of transmission must be clearly understood since it can be different depending on the virus e.g. urine, faecal, bite and it may be seasonal e.g. only present in the urine during the reproductive season of the bats. This is the basic information needed to start with but this alone will not stop outbreaks. We need to understand contact with people and other animals and risk of transmission. Mitigations strategies to limit opportunities for spillover must be developed in collaboration with governments and all affected parties including society. This programme goes beyond just testing bats for viruses. 

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