New zoonoses (pathogens derived from animals) are emerging and known zoonoses are re-emerging in animal and human populations at alarming rates throughout the world. These pathogens represent a serious concern for medical and veterinary public health authorities, as well as for the authorities concerned with regulating biosafety and biosecurity at national and international levels. The confluence of people, animals (wild and domestic) and animal products is unprecedented, largely due to the ease of traversing large distances rapidly, afforded by the aviation industry.

The Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases (CEZPD) aims to be a national and international centre of excellence for emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases.  CEZPD aim to function as a resource for knowledge and expertise to the South African government, the SADC countries and the African continent, in order to assist in the planning of relevant policies and programmes and to harness innovation in science and technology to support surveillance, detection and outbreak response systems. In observing this goal the CEZPD supports South Africa’s commitment to the International Health Regulations.

The Centre includes the Parasitology Reference Laboratory and Vector Control Reference Laboratory.


The group provides a specialised parasitology reference service for routine diagnostic medical laboratories. Specialised parasitological diagnostic and confirmatory tests are offered by the laboratory. In addition, certain important pathogens form the focus of its surveillance, research and teaching activities. Surveillance is currently being done on the unconventional opportunistic pathogen Pneumocystis jirovecii that causes the important AIDS-defining infection, Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP). The estimation of the burden of parasites in children less than 5 years of age presenting with diarrhoea, is the aim of another surveillance project carried out at sentinel sites in South Africa. Surveillance of drug-resistant malaria in South Africa is new exciting project beginning in 2014. Research and development of new identification techniques for human parasites is on-going and currently includes projects on opportunistic diseases such as microsporidiosis, toxoplasmosis, and free-living amoeba infections.

Vector Control

Malaria is the major vector-borne disease in Africa, killing close to 1 million people annually, most of them children under the age of five. In South Africa, malaria transmission is confined to the low-lying border areas in the northeast of the country. The Vector Control Reference Laboratory (VCRL) focuses on the anopheline mosquitoes responsible for malaria transmission and houses a unique collection of live mosquito colonies of the three most important vector species in Africa, namely Anopheles gambiae, An. arabiensis and An. funestus, plus the minor vector An. merus, and the non-vector species of the An. gambiae complex, An. quadriannulatus. Three colonies of An. funestus from Mozambique and Angola continue to provide us with a unique resource for research into insecticide resistance in this important malaria vector. This places the VCRL in a unique position to provide operational support to the National and provincial malaria control programmes, to offer collaborations with international institutions investigating similar problems and to play a role in influencing policy decisions on vector control strategies in the southern African region. In addition, the VCRL houses the largest museum collection of African arthropods of medical importance in Africa, the third largest such collection in the world. The high level of expertise in the VCRL has been recognized by the University of the Witwatersrand and it now forms part of the Wits Research Institute for Malaria (WRIM).


For publications of the CEZPD please click on the link below:

Head: CEZD
Prof Janusz Paweska

General and secretary to Head CEZD:
Ms Nondumiso Mpuhlu
Tel:   +2711 386 6382
Fax:  +2711 882 3741

Physical address:
National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service
1 Modderfontein road, Sandringham 2192, South Africa

Postal address:
(Address to particular Division)
National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service
Private bag X4, Sandringham, 2131, South Africa

Special Bacterial Pathogens Reference Laboratory:
Dr Jenny Rossouw
Tel:  +2711 555 0331
Fax:  +2711 555 0447

Special Viral Pathogens Reference Laboratory:
Dr Jacqueline Weyer
Tel:  +27113866376 or +27829039131
Fax:   +27118823741

Arbovirus Reference Laboratory:
Dr Petrus Jansen van Vuren
Tel:  +27115550503 or +27829088045
Fax:  +27118823741

Electron Microscopy:
Dr Monica Birkhead
Tel:    +273866318

For outbreak, clinical advice or public health queries:
NICD Clinical Advice Hotline +2782 883 9920