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Zoonoses Research Unit

About the Zoonoses Research Unit (ZRU)

The Zoonoses Research Unit (ZRU) focuses on the investigation of vector borne and zoonotic diseases in humans and animals in the country. What makes this unit unique is the close ties between human and animal health and embodies the true meaning of the “One Health approach” of research in the medical and veterinary fields. We are investigating neurological diseases in humans and animals that are caused by arboviruses as well as emerging pathogens. The unit is an extension of the Zoonosis research programme on West Nile Virus that was started by Prof Venter in the Department of Medical Virology in 2005 but has grown into an independent Unit within the department with state of the art BSL2, BSL3 and molecular laboratories. We are privileged to now also have Prof Bob Swanepoel as full Professor in the Unit who serve as our biosecurity and Zoonotic disease consultant.

The ZRU is currently part of the Global Disease Detection Programme of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention of the USA and aims to identify emerging and reemerging vector borne zoonotic pathogens in Africa. We are also affiliated with the Centre for Respiratory viruses and Meningitis of the National Institute for Communicable diseases with Prof. Venter being Co-director of the Centre and Director of the National Influenza World health Organization Reference center.

The Unit is part of the University of Pretoria Institutional Research theme on Biotechnology in animal health and zoonosis and has projects running to target the following aims: