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BITRI Develops Rapid Foot and Mouth Disease Test Kit

Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) is developing the kits in collaboration with Botswana Vaccine Institute and Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Recently, BITRI held an FMD diagnostic tool kit research findings stakeholder engagement officiated by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele, at Maun Lodge.

Madigele said the rapid test kit promises to be a major breakthrough in the testing of FMD not just in Botswana, but Africa.  He explained that it would detect FMD in an animal within 25 minutes on site and immediately assist in monitoring the disease.   “If successful, this kit will significantly reduce waiting period for results to come back from the laboratories far away from cattle posts, thereby saving farmers the headache of anticipation,” he said. Madigele said accurate diagnosis of cattle infected with FMD is of prime importance to allow both control and eradication of FMD. Researcher at BITRI Boitumelo Madabuka explained that they are mandated to develop technologies to develop livelihoods across sectors of the economy. He said in 2014, they resolved to develop an FMD test kit similar to that used for HIV and pregnancy tests. She elaborated that Clearview technology (Patent No. 01291 194 B1, 1988) was introduced by Unipath Ltd (Bedford, UK) for the determination of pregnancy in women. Moreover, Lateral Flow Device (LFD) have since been adapted as diagnostic tools not only in human medicine, but also in veterinary medicine. She explained that “A rapid test would allow for on-site diagnosis to be made in a case of a suspected disease outbreak”.

Madabuka said most existing diagnostic methods require highly-trained laboratory personnel, special equipment thereby causing delays in the implementation of control procedures. Further, she explained that rapid and specific test for FMD at site permit suitable implementation of control measures. Madabuka explained that the role of test kits is to confirm suspected cases of FMD, substantiate absence of infection, demonstrate the efficacy of vaccination and for substantiating freedom from infection. She said BITRI plans to develop four sets of kits for FMD. Furthermore, Madabuka said after finalising the kits, they will hand them over to the Department of Veterinary Services for usage. However, the kits have to be approved by World Organisation for Animal Health before they are used.”

“As a research institute, our role is to develop the kits. For their commercialisation, expectation is that the private sector will invest in their production,” she said.

BITRI is a parastatal established in 2012 under the newly established Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology. It is mandated to conduct needs based research and development in focused areas by identifying and developing appropriate technologies.

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