Ebola Virus and Institut Pasteur

Ebola Virus and Institut Pasteur

Paris, July 30, 2014

Institut Pasteur of Dakar on the front line against the Ebola crisis in West Africa

Since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, several scientists from the Institut Pasteur have been offering their support to an international aid plan, in collaboration with the Guinean Ministry of Health. 

Establishment of a Mobile Laboratory in Guinea

The Institut Pasteur’s Emerging Viral Infections Biology Unit identified Guinea as the origin of the outbreak.  Researchers from the CIBU/ Urgent Biological Intervention unit of the Institut Pasteur in Paris then immediately proceeded, together with health officials, to contribute to the unfolding of a mobile laboratory in Guinea.  As a result, detection and monitoring capacities of this rapidly spreading virus are greatly strengthened, not only in Guinea but also in neighboring countries.  

The Institut Pasteur of Dakar, the first African lab in Guinea

In March of 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the government of Guinea invited the Institut Pasteur of Dakar (IPD) to assist with the investigation of and response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea. The resulting IPD laboratory was the only local laboratory confirming suspected cases.  The IPD is a Collaborating Centre on Arboviruses and Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the African Continent.  

The IPD laboratory has deployed three senior virologists and other Institut Pasteur experts to the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where the IPD Ebola treatment center is hosted. There, they offer case management (from identification of confirmed cases to guiding the release of alert cases and discharging confirmed ones) and the epidemiological investigation, including contact tracing and testing of suspect cases, for all of Guinea. The IPD laboratory in Conakry identified the first confirmed case of Ebola fever in Conakry and in Liberia and has tested more than 480 samples and confirmed 113 Ebola cases.  Further, IP and IPD staff has trained a team of 10 Guinean technicians in Ebola diagnostics and patients’ sampling, and participates in daily meetings for management, coordination, and logistics.  

In response to the request for cooperation expressed by the Guinean authorities and supported by the French government, the Institut Pasteur is currently seeking expanded support for the existing research center in Conakry. 

In addition to its activities in Guinea, the IPD unit of Arboviruses and Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers is the reference laboratory for the region.  It has tested samples of suspected cases from Angola, Gambia, Mali, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast. 

An international response to fight the outbreak

The Institut Pasteur took part in the meeting in Accra, Ghana, July 2 – 3, organized by the World Health Organization, during which the creation of a Sub-Regional Outbreak Coordination Centre was proposed.  This new center would act as a coordinating platform to consolidate technical support to West African countries and assist in resource mobilization. The establishment of the Center was requested by health ministers from 11 African countries at an emergency meeting convened by WHO.

In addition, the Institut Pasteur, INSERM and Fondation Mérieux are joining forces to submit a project proposal to the European Commission, seeking funding for a new mobile laboratory and reinforcement of training activities on this specific issue.

Activities of IPD as a WHO collaborating center

Since 1963, Institut Pasteur of Dakar (IPD) is a leading institution in Africa and a WHO collaborating center for Arboviruses and Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses. It is involved in public health (surveillance, outbreak investigation, risk assessment, laboratory deployment), training (international and national workshops, and internships), research, and expertise (committees for WHO, OIE and FAO, supplying reagents) for Yellow fever, Rift Valley fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, Dengue, Marburg, Chikungunya, Ebola and West Nile fever in Africa. IPD is one of the few institutions in Africa that can deploy a multidisciplinary team including entomology, virology and entomology.