An RT-PCR based detection method for Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV)-infected cassava has been developed. The RT-PCR detection method described includes RNA extraction methods for cassava leaves, a distinct primer set for the virus and RT-PCR conditions. The primers were designed to the virus coat protein gene and generate a virus-specific product of 231 bp from infected cassava. The test can detect the virus in the new growth of cassava sticks before any disease symptoms are visible. This test was used successfully with infected cassava from both Tanzania and Mozambique. Three isolates from Tanzania were found to exhibit different symptoms on the secondary host plants Nicotiana benthamiana and N. tabacum SR1. They have nucleotide sequence variation within the coat protein region of up to 8% and amino acid differences of up to 6%.