Immunology and Microbiology

Immunology and Microbiology section consists of three specialised units (Bioaerosol Unit, Occupational Allergy Unit, Waterborne Pathogens Unit) and is a hub of knowledge with highly skilled professionals contributing to applied and innovative research and provide quality occupational health services. Together we contribute to the NIOH teaching & training mandate.

Our main function is evaluating the association between hypersensitivity or disease (i.e. occupational allergies, asthma and infectious diseases) and workplace exposures caused by hazardous biological agents and allergic chemical substances.  Sometimes our investigations require visits to workplaces, which we do in collaboration with other sections (e.g. occupational medicine and occupational hygiene) to get a better understanding of the processes and exposures so that appropriate testing can be done and recommendations given to reduce exposure and prevent disease.


Our service is primarily aimed at evaluating the association between hypersensitivity or diseases (e.g. Legionnaire’s disease) and workplace exposure achieved by immunological and/or microbiological laboratory tests.

We provide a wide range of specialized tests for Read More about the Bioaerosol Monitoring Unitoccupational allergies and waterborne pathogens. Our services include site visits, laboratory analysis, consultations on occupational health issues, health hazard evaluations and general queries on our focus areas.  We do workplace visits and risk assessments to hazardous biological agents in collaboration with occupational hygiene.


The Section is involved in cutting edge, applied & internationally recognized research aimed to develop new tests that are rapid and cost effective, to identify new and emerging exposures as well as pathological mechanisms.  The research programme also aims to inform guidelines and standards and influence policy change.  Our research is done independently as well as through national and international collaborations.  Overlap between units.

Teaching and Training

Our teaching and training programme is varied and aims to increase awareness of allergies and infections caused by hazardous biological agents and other offending allergens.  Our medical scientist internship programme is accredited by the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The latter programme aim to increase the knowledge-base in the Microbiology, thus preparing students for employment in the laboratory setting. 80% of our staff have joint appointments with academic institutions involved in lecturing, facilitation and supervision of higher degrees. Tailored presentations relevant to allergies and infectious disease and occupational exposure to hazardous biological agents amongst others are developed for various industries.  We also provide basic health & safety training to the informal sector in particular street waste pickers.

For more Information about the Immunology and Microbiology Section, contact:

Head of Section
Dr Tanusha Singh
Tel: +27-(0)11-712-6475
Fax: +27-(0)11-712-6426