The Centre for Emerging Zoonotic and Parasitic Diseases (CEZPD) was recently established by the amalgamation of six former NICD sections: Special Bacterial Pathogens Reference Laboratory, Special Viral Pathogens Reference Laboratory, Arbovirus Reference Laboratory, Electron Microscopy, Parasitology Reference Laboratory and Vector Control Reference Laboratory. The Centre operates the only suit biosafety level 4 facility on the African continent, which places it both strategically and critically in a position to assist in response to highly dangerous emerging and re-emerging zoonotic pathogens. The Centre has a strong track record in providing a comprehensive capacity for the differential diagnosis and research of viral haemorrhagic fevers, arthropod-borne diseases, human rabies, anthrax, plague, leptospirosis and other infectious diseases of public health importance. Furthermore, the centre offers specialised parasitological diagnostic tests and is involved in surveillance of drug-resistant malaria and vector control strategies in South Africa. The Centre provides training to BSc Hons, MSc and PhD students, and national and international research fellows, in laboratory techniques, including training in working in BSL3 and BSL4 biocontainment facilities.
The CEZPD aims to be a national and international centre of excellence for emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases, especially those categorized as biosafety level 3 and 4 pathogens, to function as a resource for knowledge and expertise to the South African government, the SADC countries and the African continent, to assist in the planning of relevant policies and programmes and to harness innovation in science and technology to support control, surveillance, detection and outbreak response systems. In observing this goal, the CEZPD supports South Africa’s commitment to the International Health Regulations, One Health and Global Health Security Agenda