Pathogens and Water-borne Parasites Research Group (PPRG)

Members
Professor Shadreck Dube (PI), Joshua Mbanga, Madeline Sibula, Yvonne O. Nyararai

About us
The Parasites and Pathogens Research Group headed by Professor S. Dube works on parasites and pathogens of medical and veterinary importance. Our major focus is on molecular characterization and bioassays of parasites such as helminths, the malaria host (Anophelines) and plasmodium variants as well as pathogens that include viruses and bacteria. The research outputs are meant to benefit those in agriculture, the medical field, wildlife and the Zimbabwean nation at large in alleviating poverty and improving the current strategies of interventions against parasitic and pathogenic diseases.

Research focus
Pathogens and parasites are important components of an ecological system. Not only do they cause disease in individual species and humans, but they can also perturb the normal functioning of a community. They have a negative effect on host organisms and the general populations. It therefore becomes imperative for their physiology and genomics to be studied. The distribution of pathogens and parasites at a given time will depend on climatic conditions, host range and abundance. In Zimbabwe, the prevailing warm and wet conditions mean the transmission rates of both parasites and pathogens over time will increase as these conditions are conducive for their multiplication. Virulence of these organisms may also increase with increase in temperature as evidence of some studies suggest. Studying pathogens and parasites of animals and humans will not only increase research knowledge, but will also benefit the Zimbabwean nation at large.

Current activities

Parasites:

Helminths
A lot of work has so far been done on helminthes of domestic animals particularly on paramphistomes and fasciola using traditional techniques for characterization and identification. Ongoing work on characterization and population genetic studies of the paramphistomes being carried out using molecular techniques for better understanding of the genetic makeup of these. Molecular detection of helminthes in the wild and in definitive hosts (snails) being carried out.

Protozoa
Molecular characterization and bio-assays are currently being done on plasmodium variants.
This also includes drug resistance profiles and pesticide resistance profiles on the Anophelines.

Pathogens
Work is being done in areas of virology and bacteriology.

Bacteriology
Ongoing work on molecular characterization, bioassays including antimicrobial resistance (AMR) profiles and virulence genotyping of micro-organisms like E.coli causing colibacillosis of poultry and porcine. Bioassays including antimicrobial resistance (AMR) profiles and virulence genotyping of bacteria responsible for causing serious human ailments like Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
Virulence gene profiling of different bacteria associated with livestock using sequencing.

Virology
Ongoing studies on molecular detection and characterization of viruses including foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV), rotaviruses and Lumpy skin disease virus.

Collaborators

  • Central Veterinary Laboratories Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife
  • Medical school (University of Zimbabwe)


Recent Publications

  • S. Dube., M.S. Sibula and Z. Dhlamini. 2015. Molecular analysis of selected paramphistome isolates from cattle in southern Africa. Journal of Helminthology.
  • Mbanga, J. Nyararai, Y.O. 2015. Virulence gene profiles of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli isolated from chickens with colibacillosis in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 82 (1).
  • Mbanga, J., Dube S. and Munyanduki H. 2010. Prevalence and drug resistance in bacteria of the urinary tract infections in Bulawayo province, Zimbabwe. East African Journal of Public Health 7 (3).