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Susan Kerfua

PhD Student

Susan studies foot and mouth disease circulation on the Uganda - Tanzania border



Ms. Kerfua obtained her Bachelor of Biomedical Laboratory Technology from Makerere University where she specialized in Microbiology for her research project. She has also obtained her Master of Science in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Makerere University Kampala. Ms. Kerfua has worked with the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI) which is part of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in the Microbiology Department since 2007. She has been involved in research on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in domestic pigs, rift valley fever, contagious pleuro-pneumonia and pestes de petits ruminants alongside prominent scientists. She has also been involved in research on Newcastle disease and other major poultry diseases and conditions. Ms Kerfua is currently pursuing her PhD in Life Sciences at Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology and is working on FMD research. Ms. Kerfua’s current research interests are geared towards molecular evolution of microbes with the anticipation of understanding the dynamics of microbial evolution to aid in developing better strategies for disease prevention and control. During her free time, Ms. Kerfua loves cooking and site seeing.

Epidemiology of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Border Districts of Uganda and Tanzania

Thesis Research Project



My research project will focus on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) dynamics in the districts of Uganda and Tanzania that are found at the border.  In this study, I will determine the spatial and temporal distribution of FMD in Uganda and Tanzania (Lake region) which will ultimately lead us to having an outbreak model in place. Also, I will focus FMD virus phylogenetics work to look specifically into recombination events. Another crucial element of this study is to determine the economic impact of FMD control methods on the communities in the study area.


1. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is one of the most contagious and economically damaging infectious diseases in animals (James and Rushton,2002; FAO, 2012)

a. Affects all cloven hoofed animals both domestic and wild, causing painful lesions leading to loss of appetite, lameness, and reduced milk production

b. Potential for long-term reduced productivity of animals in endemic settings

c. Negatively impacts on local and international trade

2. Endemic in Tanzania and Uganda

a. Border regions are important areas to consider for spread and control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (TADs) especially FMD (Di Nardo et al, 2005)

b. Multiple serotypes (O, A, Southern-African Territories (SAT) 1, 2 & 3)

c. Lack of connectivity between countries for FMD control

d. Lack of information on impact on food security, socio-economics, and circulating serotypes in districts located the border of Uganda and Tanzania

3. Determine impact of FMD on household economies and nutrition

a. Survey households in target study regions (Isingiro and Rakai districts in Uganda, Missenyi and Kyerwe in Tanzania)

b. Objectives: food availability, food variety, food prices during FMD outbreaks and quarantines

c. Household income and expenditure during FMD outbreaks and quarantines

4. Using retrospective data, ascertain the spatial and temporal distribution of FMD in the districts located at the border of Uganda and Tanzania

a. Outbreak data on dates when outbreaks occurred, number of outbreaks, villages and sub-counties or wards where outbreaks occurred between 2011-2016

b. Districts of Isingiro and Rakai districts in Uganda, Missenyi and Kyerwe in Tanzania

c. Emphasis placed on sub-counties/wards adjacent to the border

5. Determine the genetic relatedness of viruses isolated from districts located at the border of Uganda and Tanzania

a. Phylogenetic analyses

b. Determine any recombination events

Latest News

Presentations, Publications, and Awards

Global FMD Research Alliance Conference

October 2017

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