News & Events

Innovative Biological Tracking Software to Optimize Animal Disease Research at Kruger National Park

Johannesburg, South Africa
Friday, October 5, 2018

Research to Mitigate Health and Economic Risks

Black & Veatch has been tasked by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to implement an electronic system that enables the inventory and management of biological materials at Kruger National Park in South Africa. In partnership with the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Black & Veatch will support the Office of the State Veterinarian in preventing and controlling animal diseases. 

Kruger is one of the largest game reserves in Africa, spanning more than 2 million hectares. The Office of the State Veterinarian services the park’s 137 mammals and more than 500 bird varieties. Black & Veatch helped develop DTRA’s Pathogen Asset Control System (PACS) software that will provide detailed tracking of biological samples from these animals to diagnose, research and control zoonotic diseases, including the control of disease-carrying species that move in and out of the park and related risks that could affect the South African export market and in-country meat safety.

“Our long-term partnership with DTRA and proven track record of quickly implementing PACS solutions for state-of-the art laboratories around the world has helped us expand our work in South Africa with this critical animal health program,” said Tom Wahl, Vice President and Managing Director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Black & Veatch Federal Business. “Our biological asset protection expertise takes on a new role in this project when the assets at hand are serious pathogens that must be handled and analyzed with care.”

Officials at Kruger undertake regular surveillance patrols to observe and sample various animal species.  Ante- and post-mortem investigations are regularly conducted where suspicion of disease exists, and various diagnostic samples are taken for further testing and analysis at laboratories. The Office of the State Veterinarian is also involved in numerous research projects, such as studying controlled or notifiable diseases.

“As part of DTRA’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), implementing PACS at Kruger National Park will improve biosecurity by tracking samples in real-time on a consolidated dashboard, enabling detailed traceability of an entire sample’s lifecycle and unique characteristics,” said Dr. Louis van Schalkwyk, Office of the State Veterinarian.

Editor's Notes:

  • In South Africa, three institutions have adopted PACS, including the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). NICD studies human infections and dangerous pathogens. Using PACS, the institution is able to effectively track and manage biological agents, many of which are stored in freezers at multiple sites.
  • Black & Veatch has worked with DTRA on its CBEP program since 2004, which emphasizes cooperation and collaborative research with institutes and scientists to strengthen the detection and diagnosis of highly infectious disease outbreaks and related biothreats.

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