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Aryal A.,Massey University | Brunton D.,Massey University | Ji W.,Massey University | Karmacharya D.,Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2014

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is an endangered carnivore of southern and central Asia. Approximate 10% of the global population occurs in the Himalayan region of Nepal. The snow leopard is thought to be in decline because of human-snow leopard conflicts, poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, decreasing prey populations, and a lack of awareness and enforcement of conservation legislation. In this study, we used habitat surveys and genetic analyses of putative snow leopard scats to estimate the abundance, habitat preferences, and diet profile of the snow leopard in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal. Cliffs, grassland, and shrubland at high elevation (3,000-5,000 m) were the preferred habitats of snow leopards. Eighty-three percent of collected scats collected were verified to be from snow leopards using mitochondrial DNA cytochrome-b species-specific polymerase chain reaction assays. Sixty-two percent of the scats were successfully genotyped using 6 microsatellite markers, and identified as having originated from 5 different individuals. The dispersion of multiple scats from the same individual suggested minimum movement ranges of 89.4 km2 for males and 59.3 km2 for females. Estimated population density was 1.9 individuals/100 km2 and 22 snow leopards were estimated to inhabit the upper Mustang region. Microhistological analysis of scats (n = 248) revealed that blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) was the primary wild prey (63%), and livestock also contributed significantly (18%) to snow leopard diet. We used a multipronged strategy for assessing conservation options for this rare carnivore and compared our findings with those pertaining to other predators of the region that share similar habitats and resources. The findings from this study will be helpful in managing snow leopards and similar carnivore populations across the snow leopard's entire geographic range. © 2014 American Society of Mammalogists. Source

Karmacharya D.B.,Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal | Thapa K.,World Wildlife Fund | Shrestha R.,World Wildlife Fund | Dhakal M.,Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation | Janecka J.E.,Texas A&M University
BMC Research Notes | Year: 2011

Background: The endangered snow leopard is found throughout major mountain ranges of Central Asia, including the remote Himalayas. However, because of their elusive behavior, sparse distribution, and poor access to their habitat, there is a lack of reliable information on their population status and demography, particularly in Nepal. Therefore, we utilized noninvasive genetic techniques to conduct a preliminary snow leopard survey in two protected areas of Nepal. Results: A total of 71 putative snow leopard scats were collected and analyzed from two different areas; Shey Phoksundo National Park (SPNP) in the west and Kangchanjunga Conservation Area (KCA) in the east. Nineteen (27%) scats were genetically identified as snow leopards, and 10 (53%) of these were successfully genotyped at 6 microsatellite loci. Two samples showed identical genotype profiles indicating a total of 9 individual snow leopards. Four individual snow leopards were identified in SPNP (1 male and 3 females) and five (2 males and 3 females) in KCA. Conclusions: We were able to confirm the occurrence of snow leopards in both study areas and determine the minimum number present. This information can be used to design more in-depth population surveys that will enable estimation of snow leopard population abundance at these sites. © 2011 Karmacharya et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Evans T.S.,University of California at Davis | Barry P.A.,University of California at Davis | Gilardi K.V.,University of California at Davis | Goldstein T.,University of California at Davis | And 9 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2015

Free-ranging nonhuman primates are frequent sources of zoonotic pathogens due to their physiologic similarity and in many tropical regions, close contact with humans. Many highrisk disease transmission interfaces have not been monitored for zoonotic pathogens due to difficulties inherent to invasive sampling of free-ranging wildlife. Non-invasive surveillance of nonhuman primates for pathogens with high potential for spillover into humans is therefore critical for understanding disease ecology of existing zoonotic pathogen burdens and identifying communities where zoonotic diseases are likely to emerge in the future. We developed a non-invasive oral sampling technique using ropes distributed to nonhuman primates to target viruses shed in the oral cavity, which through bite wounds and discarded food, could be transmitted to people. Optimization was performed by testing paired rope and oral swabs from laboratory colony rhesus macaques for rhesus cytomegalovirus (RhCMV) and simian foamy virus (SFV) and implementing the technique with free-ranging terrestrial and arboreal nonhuman primate species in Uganda and Nepal. Both ubiquitous DNA and RNA viruses, RhCMV and SFV, were detected in oral samples collected from ropes distributed to laboratory colony macaques and SFV was detected in free-ranging macaques and olive baboons. Our study describes a technique that can be used for disease surveillance in free-ranging nonhuman primates and, potentially, other wildlife species when invasive sampling techniques may not be feasible. © 2015 Smiley Evans et al. Source

Upreti S.R.,Ministry of Health and Population | Gurung S.,World Health Organization | Patel M.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Dixit S.M.,Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal | And 6 more authors.
Vaccine | Year: 2014

Background: In Nepal, an estimated 2-4% of the population has chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. To combat this problem, from 2002 to 2004, a national three dose hepatitis B vaccination program was implemented to decrease infection rates among children. The program does not currently include a birth dose to prevent perinatal HBV transmission. In 2012, to assess the impact of the program, we conducted a serosurvey among children born before and after vaccine introduction. Methods: In 2012, a cross-sectional nationally representative stratified cluster survey was conducted to estimate hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) prevalence among children born from 2006 to 2007 (post-vaccine cohort) and among children born from 2000 to 2002 (pre-vaccine cohort). Demographic data, as well as written and oral vaccination history were collected. All children were tested for HBsAg; mothers of HBsAg positive children were also tested. Furthermore, we evaluated the field sensitivity and specificity of the SD Bioline HBsAg rapid diagnostic test by comparing results with an enzyme immunoassay. Results: Among 2181 post-vaccination cohort children with vaccination data by either card or recall, 86% (95% confidence interval [CI] 77-95%) received ≥3 hepatitis B vaccine doses. Of 1200 children born in the pre-vaccination cohort, 0.28% (95% CI 0.09-0.85%) were positive for HBsAg; of 2187 children born in the post-vaccination cohort, 0.13% (95% CI 0.04-0.39%) were positive for HBsAg (p= 0.39). Of the six children who tested positive for HBsAg, two had mothers who were positive for HBsAg. Finally, we found the SD Bioline HBsAg rapid diagnostic test to have a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 100%. Conclusions: This is the first nationally representative hepatitis B serosurvey conducted in Nepal. Overall, a low burden of chronic HBV infection was found in children born in both the pre and post-vaccination cohorts. Current vaccination strategies should be continued. © 2014. Source

Kinkel H.-T.,German Society for International Cooperation | Karmacharya D.,Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal | Shakya J.,Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal | Manandhar S.,Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

As part of a comprehensive health care programme for people who use drugs in Nepal, HIV and viral hepatitis B and C status - including risk factors, HCV-genotypes and co-infections - as well as two IL28B Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were assessed for a random sample of 401 people who inject drugs in three regions of Nepal: mid-western Terrai (Nepalgunj), the eastern region (Dharan, Biratnagar) and the central region (Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Chitwan). Individuals were included who showed at least a minimum of health care seeking behaviour. This latter criterion was defined by being registered with any organisation offering health services. The average age of the participants was 30.5 yrs, and the average length of intravenous drug use was 8.5 yrs. The prevalence rates of HBsAg, anti-HIV antibodies and HCV-RNA were 3.5%, 13.8% and 41.9%, respectively. Spontaneous HCV clearance was evident in 16% of all of those who tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies. Independent risk factors for HCV-RNA positivity were age, gender, geographical region, duration of injecting drug use, history of imprisonment and HIV co-infection. In the age group <24 yrs, the rate of spontaneous HCV clearance was 43.5%. Overall, 59.8% of HCV infections were caused by HCV genotype 3 and 40.2% by HCV genotype 1. No other HCV genotypes were identified in this study. The IL28BSNP rs12979860 and rs8099917were identified in 122 patients, and 75.4% of all participants had both favourable genotypes rs12979860 C/C and rs8099917 T/T. © 2015 Kinkel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

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