Vectors and vector-borne diseases in Algeria

Team 4 of UMR D 257 Vectors – Tropical and Mediterranean Infections (VITROME)
Aix-Marseille University (AMU), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) – French Military Health Service (SSA)
This team is located at the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences de l’Aliments et Industries Agro-Alimentaire d’Alger (ESSAIA) campus

Team leaders


Team members
  • AMOURA Kamel
  • BAZIZ-NEFFAH Fadhila
  • BENAKHLA Ahmed
  • BENREDJEM Wassila
  • BESSAS Amina
  • BOUCHAIB Hayet
  • DERRAR Faouzi
  • DIB Loubna
  • GHAOUI Hichem
  • LAFRI Ismail
  • LEULMI Hamza
  • MAMMERIA Aicha Beya
  • MOUFFOK Nadjet
  • RAHAL Mohamed
  • ZAIDI Sara
  • ZEROUAL Fayçal

Scientific strategy and pospects

The main structural objective of the team will be the definitive establishment of a research laboratory in Algiers, hosted by a structure under the authority of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRS) in Algeria.

Our lab will be located in the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences de l’Aliments et Industries Agro-Alimentaire d’Alger (ESSAIA) campus. There, the professionals of Science of Food and Food Industries are trained. It is located within the Mitija, a plain of the Algerian hinterland, north of Algeria. It ensures close links with the food industry partners on not only regional but national. Recently created, the ESSAIA offers a friendly and dynamic environment of training, with different lessons and training infrastructure (laboratories, library, multimedia rooms …) necessary to the development and scientific development of its students. The ESSAIA, provides a balanced education between lectures, tutorials and practical teachings that combines scientific, technological, human and social sciences, promoting the versatility and multidisciplinary future graduate who is well trained in project management, to management and team work.

1. Lice

Animal lice will be collected to know the bacteria associated with them. We will also use innovative technologies such as MALDI TOF to develop new identification tools.

2. Plague

We will extend our geographic investigations in North Africa to the North hemisphere and test if plague foci are significantly located close to salt sources. Indeed, salt may be one of the factors contributing to the maintenance of plague foci in North Africa and Eurasia. L-form of Y. pestis may persist in these salt areas. Based on maps of salt in the north hemisphere, it may be possible to focus the surveillance of enzootic plague around salt sources in order to optimize the prevention of human plague in these countries. This work will be the thema of a Master 2 thesis.

3. Borrelia and soft ticks

We will collect soft ticks in rodents burrows, as well as in nests of the yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis). Ticks will be identified by morphological tools, gene sequencing and MALDI TOF. The prevalence of Borrelia, Rickettsia, Anaplasma infections in ticks will be assessed by qPCR template assays. All samples identified as positive by qPCR were confirmed by a different standard PCR and sequencing for the fragments of the flagellin gene (FLA).

Various studies will be conducted to monitor the infection of domestic and wild animals in Algeria. These works will be the subjects of Master and PhD thesis of Veterinarians. Topics will include: the surveillance of yersinia in domestic animals in Algiers; the screening of bacteria associated with hedgehogs and their ectoparasites; the research of natural reservoir of west nil virus; the study of tularemia reservoirs including hares and rats caught in the Mitidja of Algeria

Entomological studies will be conducted around the home of human cases of leishmaniasis. This work will be conducted in collaboration with infectious diseases teams in the hospitals of Algiers. Insecticid resistance will be a topic of interest through several projects: surveillance of human lice (body and hair) and their resistance to insecticides (pyrethroids); trials on the insecticide actions of plants extracts (the first target will be fleas and ticks); studiy about the causes of abortion in ruminants (detection of agents in placenta).

Following our prelilinary works on the use of MALDI-TOF MS as an alternative, rapid and inexpensive tool for accurate identification of fleas and phlebotomine sand flies. We will apply this technology to identify tiks and mosquitoes from Algeria. These works will be conducted in Marseille as well as in Algiers, since a major goal is to implement a maldi tof in our laboratory. It will be used for medical entomology but also will be used as a tool to start collaborations with veterinarian and medical doctors ans researchers in Algeria. We will also try to use Maldi Tof to differentiate arthropods infected or not by bacteria or parasites as this topic has been developed by some of our studenst sent to Marseille for their Master or PhD training.

Our team include infectious diseases clinicians in Oran and Tizi Ouzou, who have been involved in the past years in deciphering the etiologies of fevers in Algeria, as well as the clinical aspects of rickettsial dieases. We will continue the investigations in Oran. We will also investigate such patients in Tizi Ouzou. Two main cohorts will be created. The first cohorts will inlcude patients suspects of having a rickettsial disease. The second will include patients with FUO. New diagnosis tools such as swabbing eschars for qPCR analysis will be tested.

We want to continue the development of the Mediterranean network, called “REMEDIER” for REsearch for MEDiterranean Infections that are Emerging or Reemerging (granted in 2014 by AMIDEX foundation). The base of the network is in Marseille and Alger. This will be conducted in connection with the team 1 of VITROME. The first step of the project will be to construct the base of the network through the development of laboratory facilities in Algiers (South core site, Algeria). Researchers but also clinicians from Algiers and Oran will be involved. The scientific program will include several tasks including 1) Define the repertoire of pathogens using the MALDI TOF technology, 2) Implementing Point of Care (POC) laboratories, 3) Transfert of competence and knowledge, 4) Determine the agents causing « fever of unknown origin », 5) Biosurveillance ad real-time surveillance of infectious diseases, 6) Surveillance of antibiotic resistance, 7) Malaria surveillance, 8) Surveillance of infections in pilgrims during and after the Hajj, 9) Economic and demographic consequences of infectious diseases.


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