Collaborative study on Ecology of influenza viruses with CEIRS, St Jude Children Hospital

Background & Objectives: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance and NCAH began working together since 2008 for outbreak response and diagnostic workshop. Following this work, St. Jude Center of Excellence supported efforts by NCAH to expand diagnostic (rapid field test and real time PCR) capabilities in Bhutan in late 2009 and early 2010. Domestic and wild bird samples were collected from January 2010 to extend the collaboration to the field. Aliquots of samples were transferred to St. Jude Center of Excellence for real time testing to serve as a reference/quality control for the newly established real time PCR capabilities of NCAH. NCAH and St Jude are collaborating on ongoing surveillance of influenza viruses in both domestic and wild animal reservoirs. Activities includes sample collection and transport in Bhutan, real time PCR analysis of samples in Bhutan, transport of a subset of positive and negative samples to St. Jude Center of Excellence for validation combined with further characterization (immunogenic testing and virus sequencing) of circulating viruses. Specific objectives are as listed under 1. To describe the epidemiology of influenza in Bhutan. 2. Training of personnel in the areas of influenza specific diagnostics (real time PCR, HI/HA, and viral culture if desired), laboratory operations, and biosafety. 3. To characterize influenza isolates at a molecular level. 4. Surveillance: Feces, pharyngeal and cloacal swabs from domestic animals (poultry and indigenous swine population). 5. Collect feces or if possible cloacal and pharyngeal swabs from wild birds migrating through Bhutan. 6. Establish a system for transfer and sharing of data between St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Center of Excellence and the National Centre for Animal Health in Bhutan, in compliance with the NIAID contract Data Release Plan. Sample referral and results In all, a total of 1995 swab samples from poultry, ducks and wild birds were referred to St. Judes from the Year 2010 to May, 2014. In this collaborative study, of 1995 samples 46 samples had HPAI H5N1 virus isolated and were clade from outbreak areas of Chukha, Thimphu and Mongar Districts. This clade is antigenically similar to the 2011 chicken virus clade of India and virus sequence is identical from migratory wild birds and poultry.

  • May/07/2014 5:44 AM
  • Lokey Thapa


National Dog Population Management & Rabies Control Project (NDPM & RCP) is a collaborative effort of Royal Government of Bhutan (Department of Livestock) and Humane Society International with a 50-50 partnership, with funds flowing in both cash and kind. The Initiation: Realizing the need to effectively manage dog population in a scientific, humane, and sustainable manner, the government embarked upon the use of Animal Birth Control/Anti-rabies Vaccination (ABC/AR) programs in line with international standards. The Department of Livestock under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests initiated training of the veterinarians on ABC techniques through the support of NGOs such as Vets beyond Borders (VBB), an Australia based NGO and Humane Society International (HSI), a US based NGO. The proposal of HSI was more relevant and applicable in our Bhutanese context hence the Ministry enlisted the assistance of HSI, to draft and implement a sustainable and resource-efficient, national dog population management and rabies control strategy using the Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release (CNVR) protocol. Before the formal launch of the project in June 2009, a 4 months pilot phase was undertaken so as to understand the ground realities before the launch of the Ist phase with effect from February to May 2009 in which a total of 2846 dogs and cats were sterilized and vaccinated using the Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release (CNVR) protocol. The first phase which lasted from September 2009 to June 2012 covered all 20 Dzongkhags and some more than twice. In the 1st phase a total of 36987 dogs and 1548 cats were sterilized and vaccinated through CNVR. There were 3 teams working in different Dzongkhags and each team comprised of 2 vets, 7 dog catchers/nurse/prep and a driver with a dog catching van. Most of the team members at that time were HSI consultants with few Bhutanese counterparts as we lacked the technical expertise. After the successful implementation of 1st phase and the need to complete the set target of covering 80 percent of free roaming dogs, the 2nd phase of the project was launched in July 2012 for a period of 3 years till June 2015. In the 2nd phase Samtse, Paro, Chukha, Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, Pema Gatshel, Trashigang, Trashi Yangtshe, Mongar, Thimphu and Tsirang has been covered. It includes the border towns of Jaigoan, Datghari and Malbazar in India as Rabies outbreak in the bordering areas of Bhutan is attributed to the influx of dogs from across the borders. Grand Total of CNVR progress 1st phase including pilot phase: 41381 Dogs and cats and in 2nd phase 16470 which is as of March 2014

  • May/06/2014 11:58 PM
  • Lokey Thapa