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Laboratory Diagnosis of African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV)

This is a laboratory-based course that is designed for laboratory technicians or those who have limited knowledge of African swine fever virus (ASFV) and who will be responsible for implementing diagnostic techniques within the laboratory. This course is not suitable for research or group leaders. The course focuses on diagnostic techniques including serological, molecular and virological methods of detection. Participants should have an understanding of virology and related methodologies.

What you need to know

Cost:  The tuition fee for the course is £2,500. Once a place on the course has been confirmed, delegates will be required to pay a deposit of £1,000.  Please note, we will only consider refunding this deposit upon proof of inability to attend the course due to ill health or visa denial - official documentation will be required (e.g. doctor's letter, Home Office communication etc).

Duration:  The course will run for 2 weeks.

Accommodation:  The Pirbright Institute has access to basic accommodation in shared houses at an additional cost of £30 per night (excluding food). The number of rooms is however limited and availability is on a first come first served basis and cannot therefore be guaranteed.  The alternative is for course delegates to use local Bed & Breakfast accommodation which we can help to organise.  

Biosecurity: The laboratory operates at BSL3 containment level and delegates will be expected to adhere to tight biosecurity regulations, including a strict three day quarantine period and a shower upon exiting the laboratories daily. Further information will be provided.

Application deadline: TBC (please note that places will be limited).  

Course pre requisites

In order for delegates to achieve as much as possible from this training course, and to ensure their Health and Safety in the high containment facilities (BSL3) at The Pirbright Institute, all applicants are required to be able to demonstrate their ability in English language.  Where English is not the first language, a formal qualification is required. The standard is set as an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in listening, reading and speaking, and no less than 5.5 in writing. Alternative qualifications at a similar level are acceptable, e.g. TOEFL, CEF. If you do not hold a formal English language qualification, we may be able to conduct a free online English language test and Skype interview if required, in order to ascertain English language ability. Please email before applying if you require further information.

Participants requiring a visa to enter the UK will need a standard visitor visa.

Learning objectives

The course will provide a thorough understanding of current diagnostic techniques for ASFV, including discussions regarding QA and sample management. In addition, the course will discuss the aetiology, clinical signs and pathology, immunity, epidemiology and control. The course will be delivered through a series of seminars, practical demonstrations and hands-on practical work in the BSL3 laboratory.

Course description

Topics to be discussed include:
Virus isolation – ASFV:
  • Isolation of ASFV on cell culture
  • Haemadsorption Assay (HAD)
Diagnostic tests – ASFV:
  • ASFV antibody detection ELISA
  • ASFV antigen ELISA
  • Immunoblot for antibody detection
  • Immunoperoxidase test (antibody detection)
  • Manual nucleic acid extraction
  • Real-time PCR
  • Genotyping of ASF – based on p72 and/or p54
  • Sample preparation for sequencing
  • Introduction to sequencing & phylogenetic analysis

Course material (USB stick and/or online) containing seminars and standard operating procedures will be provided at the end of the course.

About the trainers

The ASFV training course will be hosted by the Non Vesicular Reference Laboratories (NVRL), led by Dr Carrie Batten.

The OIE and national reference laboratories for ASFV form a part of the NVRL at Pirbright and diagnostic tests are accredited to ISO/IEC 17025. The OIE expert for ASFV, Dr Linda Dixon, and other research leaders will present their most current findings and discuss the implications for disease control.

How to apply

Email your completed application form to

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