RITM conducts 2nd Ebola Reston Serology Training for RADDLs

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) through its Veterinary Research Department-Special Pathogens Laboratory (VRD-SPL) held the 2nd Ebola Reston Serology Training for various Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratories (RADDLs) from June 18 to 21, 2018 at the RITM Training Center.

Ebola expert Dr. Shuetsu Fukushi from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) in Japan facilitated the training. Twelve participants from RADDLs in Pangasinan, Bicol, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao learned serology procedures for the laboratory testing of the Philippines-endemic Ebola Reston virus strain. These procedures include immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) preparation of blood samples for Ebola Reston detection.

Dr. Fukushi interpreted the results of the laboratory tests during the closing ceremony held in Vivere Hotel, Alabang. Shortly after the discussion, participants took a post-test of everything they have covered in the training, after which they received their respective certificates. Each region was also given a set of IF slides, which they can use in their laboratories to practice what they have learned from the training.

The training aims to capacitate and to transfer technology on reliable detection of Ebola Reston virus to every RADDL in the country. As of the recently concluded training, RITM has already trained eight RADDLs as well as the Animal Disease Diagnostic Reference Laboratory (ADDRL).

Training coordinators Mary Glazel Biocarles and Dr. Jairue Azel Colar said that such trainings are held to prepare the country in case of outbreaks. “Noong nagka-[Ebola] outbreak dati, ang bulk ng test, nandito sa RITM. At least ngayon sa mga RADDL, alam na nila ‘yong basic principle ng ELISA. So kung magkaroon ng outbreak ulit, sila na ‘yong magte-test, then for confirmatory na lang dito [sa RITM] (During the [Ebola] outbreak before, all the samples were sent here in RITM for testing. With trainings like this for RADDLs, they now know the basic principle of ELISA. So should an outbreak occur again, RADDLs would be able to test the Ebola Reston samples and RITM will just confirm those that have tested positive),” said Dr. Colar.

Funded by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Global Health Security (US-CDC-GHS), a notable difference from last year’s training is the improved laboratory equipment for the participants’ laboratory sessions.

The training also drew positive feedback among the participants. Bicol Region RADDL representative Dr. Marisa E. Guillermo commended RITM for its “well-organized” coordination. “Iba talaga ang RITM pagdating sa pa-training. Pabalik-balik na ako rito sa RITM pero kada punta ko may bago akong naiuuwing knowledge or skills na tinuturo ko rin sa mga kasama ko (RITM is surely unique when it comes to trainings. I have been here in RITM for several times already yet I always bring home new knowledge and skills with me, which I also share with my colleagues),” said Dr. Guillermo.

Pangasinan RADDL representative Dr. Michael Usana was also very grateful for the training. “[On] behalf of my colleagues in RADDL, we appreciate your efforts, your dedication, and your help to our laboratories to upgrade our knowledge and to impart your skills and learnings to us,” said Dr. Usana.

VRD-SPL is looking forward to collaborate with more departments in the next Ebola Reston Serology Training where they hope to explore laboratory testing of samples for Ebola detection for humans.

“Hindi na lang siguro puro RADDLs. Hopefully, hindi na lang ‘yong animal side kundi pati ‘yong humans na rin. Mas mabuti na ang handa (Maybe we could involve a more diverse set of people [in the next training], not just RADDLs. Hopefully, we could explore the human side of serology testing and not just the animal side of it. It’s better to be prepared),” said Biocarles.
The Ebola Reston strain originated from the Philippines. It was first observed among bats and eventually among swine and monkeys. Although a zoonotic fatal viral disease, the virus is asymptomatic (i.e., its symptoms are not observable) in humans.

To prevent and control the spread of zoonotic diseases especially those coming from bats, RITM is looking forward to venture in bat surveillance in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of Health (DOH).

by Anel Azel Dimaano, Communication and Engagement Office Intern