UFS strip research


Prof Felicity Burt 
Division of Virology
Chair: Vector-borne and Zoonotic Pathogens 2021-2025

Prof Felicity Burt is from the Division of Virology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State, and the National Health Laboratory Service. She is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand, where she completed her PhD in medical virology; she currently holds an NRF-DST South African Research Chair in Vector-borne and Zoonotic Pathogens Research. She worked on viral haemorrhagic fevers and arboviruses at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases for 17 years before relocating to Bloemfontein, where she established a research group focusing primarily on host immune responses to arboviral and zoonotic infections and surveillance.

She has extensive experience in the field of arbovirology and is recognised both nationally and internationally within her field. She has authored more than 85 articles in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and has co-authored six chapters on medically significant arboviral infections. 

Her current research includes characterisation of humoral and cellular immune responses in patients with infections such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus and Sindbis virus; epitope discovery for the development of diagnostic tools; development of molecular and serological assays for surveillance purposes; virus discovery; and development of vaccines.

The research group established several surveillance sites in central South Africa and the Eastern Cape for the collection of mosquitoes and ticks. In addition to surveillance of vectors, serological surveillance of humans and domestic and wild animals informs on host-vector interactions and indicates the medical and veterinary significance of circulating arboviruses. The application of new technologies is considered an important focus of the research and contributes towards building skills and capacity in the field of emerging viruses and outbreak preparedness. The establishment of a biosafety level 3 laboratory for handling zoonotic viruses has significantly extended the scope of the research and will facilitate the establishment of a biobank of arboviruses circulating in the country.

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