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Lyashchenko K.P.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | Greenwald R.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | Esfandiari J.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | Mikota S.,Elephant Care International | And 7 more authors.
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology | Year: 2012

Three serologic methods for antibody detection in elephant tuberculosis (TB), the multiantigen print immunoassay (MAPIA), ElephantTB STAT-PAK kit, and DPP VetTB test, were evaluated using serial serum samples from 14 captive elephants infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 5 countries. In all cases, serological testing was performed prior to the diagnosis of TB by mycobacterial culture of trunk wash or tissue samples collected at necropsy. All elephants produced antibody responses to M. tuberculosis antigens, with 13/14 recognizing ESAT-6 and/or CFP10 proteins. The findings supported the high serodiagnostic test accuracy in detecting infections months to years before M. tuberculosis could be isolated from elephants. The MAPIA and/or DPP VetTB assay demonstrated the potential for monitoring antimycobacterial therapy and predicting TB relapse in treated elephants when continuously used in the posttreatment period. History of exposure to TB and past treatment information should be taken into consideration for proper interpretation of the antibody test results. Data suggest that the more frequent trunk wash culture testing of seropositive elephants may enhance the efficiency of the TB diagnostic algorithm, leading to earlier treatment with improved outcomes. Copyright © 2012, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

Landolfi J.A.,Loyola University | Mikota S.K.,Elephant Care International | Chosy J.,Lincoln Park Zoo | Lyashchenko K.P.,Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2010

Mycobacterium spp. infection is an important health concern for Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) populations worldwide. The disease is of particular concern considering its potential to affect not only the individual animal but also herd and public health. Although elephant tuberculosis susceptibility is poorly understood, immune function alterations are central to disease pathogenesis in other species and probably affect outcome of mycobacterial infections in elephants. Measurement of immune mediator (cytokine) levels within blood samples can provide information regarding immune function that may elucidate disease susceptibility. For this study, mRNA levels of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-10, and IL-12; interferon (IFN)-γ; tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α; and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β were measured using elephant-specific, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays in RNA-preserved whole blood samples from 106 Asian elephants, 15 of which were Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex seropositive. The Elephant TB STAT-PAK® (Chembio Diagnostics, Inc., Medford, New York 11763, USA), a novel lateral flow antibody detection assay developed for specific use in elephants, was used to determine serologic status for the study. Seropositive animals had higher levels of TNF-α and lower levels of TGF-β than seronegative animals; these differences between groups were statistically significant when levels were analyzed as categorical variables. Trends toward higher levels of IFN-γ and IL-4 and slightly lower levels of IL-10 and IL-12 were noted in the seropositive group, although differences between groups were not statistically significant. Presence of other inflammatory conditions was found to be a significant confounding variable in the analysis of the relationship between tuberculosis status and TNF-α levels, necessitating its inclusion in statistical models. Age and sex were not found to significantly affect the relationship between tuberculosis status and any of the cytokines measured. Interleukin-2 levels were below the sensitivity of the real-time RT-PCR assay irrespective of tuberculosis status. These findings provide a foundation for future research into the immunopathogenesis of elephant tuberculosis. Copyright 2010 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

Wikramanayake E.,World Wildlife Fund | Dinerstein E.,World Wildlife Fund | Seidensticker J.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Lumpkin S.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | And 16 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2011

In an unprecedented response to the rapid decline in wild tiger populations, the Heads of Government of the 13 tiger range countries endorsed the St. Petersburg Declaration in November 2010, pledging to double the wild tiger population. We conducted a landscape analysis of tiger habitat to determine if a recovery of such magnitude is possible. The reserves in 20 priority tiger landscapes can potentially support >10,000 tigers, almost thrice the current estimate. However, most core reserves where tigers breed are small and land-use change in rapidly developing Asia threatens to increase reserve and population isolation. Maintaining population viability and resilience will depend upon a landscape approach to manage tigers as metapopulations. Thus, both site-level protection and landscape-scale interventions to secure habitat corridors are simultaneous imperatives. Co-benefits, such as payment schemes for carbon and other ecosystem services, should be employed as strategies to mainstream landscape conservation in tiger habitat into development processes. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

News Article
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

It’s a little batty how little we know about the world’s bats. Oh, sure, the bats in the U.S. and some other countries have been fairly well studied. That’s because they actually need to be the subject of a lot of research. Not only do the famously flying mammals also provide an estimated $3.7 billion worth of insect control for farms in the U.S. alone, many of them are also dying from the fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome. Millions of dollars have been earmarked for studying that problem and looking for solutions. But how are the rest of the world’s bat species faring? Oddly enough, we don’t know all that much. According to numbers crunched by Jessica Welch, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee, the conservation status of 28 percent of the world’s known bat species is not currently understood. Nearly 200 species are currently listed as “data deficient.” Another 166 have never been evaluated for their extinction risk. Even worse, we also don’t know the population trends for nearly half of the world’s 1,296 bat species in order to understand if their numbers are climbing or shrinking. That, combined with the lack of other data on so many species, means that many bats could be at risk of extinction without anyone being the wiser. Welch came to this realization when compiling data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for another project. “I noticed that there is relatively little information on bat extinction risk, given that we know so little about bat population trends and sizes,” she says. “For example, there are over 10,000 recognized bird species, with just 812 having an unknown population trend. For bats, 635 species have an unknown population trend.” Now, going out in the field to try to collect population trend data for 635 species is a slightly insurmountable task. Welsh and her co-author Jeremy Beaulieu wondered if they could figure out which of these species were at risk using other methods. They decided to look at the information that we already know in order to calculate which bat species might be threatened by extinction. Luckily, previous research had helped to identify several risk factors for bat species—including geographic range, whether or not they live on islands, and how many litters they have per year. With that in hand, Welch and Beaulieu created a set of mathematical models and began to crunch the numbers. The results? The researchers found that six data deficient bats have a high risk of extinction, while ten species were what they called “of high interest.” They also calculated that many of the bats currently on the IUCN Red List may have higher or lower extinction risks than their current assessments. One of the species that came out as being the most at risk typifies their results, although it also wasn’t much of a surprise given how little we know about it. Eptesicus dimissus, a rare bat species from Thailand and Nepal, has only been observed by science one or two times since it was first documented in Royal Chitwan National Park. The IUCN assesses the species as “data deficient.” Welch and Beaulieu calculate that it is at high risk of extinction. “How can we know so little about a mammal that occurs in a national park,” Welch asks. “The reason this bat is considered endangered according to our model is that its predicted range is only 13 square kilometers! The could be an underestimate since we know so little about the bat, but until more field data on its distribution can be collected, it is important that this bat be protected where it is known to occur.” That’s actually the next phase of her research: looking at the published data for every bat species to help prioritize which ones need more scientific data and, as a result, identify which parts of the world researchers should focus their efforts. Once that’s done, maybe some of that missing bat information can finally start to be filled in.

Rhino poaching carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a 100,000-rupee ($1,000) fine in Nepal, which is now home to over 600 rhinos A one-horned rhino has died weeks after it was shot by poachers in Nepal, becoming the first of the rare animals to be killed in the country in over two years. The injured adult male was taken to the Chitwan National Park, the country's biggest rhino conservation area, for treatment after it was shot in a forest in southern Nepal in August. But on Wednesday staff at the park said it had died of its injuries, becoming the first rhino to die at the hands of poachers since May 2014. "The critically injured rhino had started to recover, but died Tuesday," said assistant conservationist Nurendra Aryal. Conservation groups had praised the Himalayan nation for its progress in combatting the poachers who kill the animals for their prized horns. Thousands of one-horned rhinos once roamed the plains of Nepal, but their numbers have plunged over the past century due to poaching and human encroachment of their habitat. The animals' horns are prized in China and parts of southeast Asia for their supposed medicinal qualities. Rhino poaching carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a 100,000-rupee ($1,000) fine in Nepal, which is now home to over 600 rhinos. Madhav Khadka, manager at WWF's wildlife trade monitoring department, said the death showed Nepal needed to improve security outside its national parks, where forest rangers guard against poaching.

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