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Pawar S.D.,National Institute of Virology | Kale S.D.,National Institute of Virology | Rawankar A.S.,National Institute of Virology | Koratkar S.S.,National Institute of Virology | And 4 more authors.
Virology Journal | Year: 2012

Abstract. Introduction. More than 70 outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been reported in poultry in the western and north-eastern parts of India. Therefore, in view of the recent HPAI H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, active AI surveillance encompassing wild, resident, migratory birds and poultry was undertaken during 2009-2011 in the State of West Bengal. Methods. A total of 5722 samples were collected from West Bengal; 3522 samples (2906 fecal droppings+616 other environmental samples) were from migratory birds and 2200 samples [1604 tracheal, cloacal swabs, environmental samples, tissue samples+596 blood (serum)] were from domestic ducks and poultry. All tracheal, cloacal and environmental samples were processed for virus isolation. Virus isolates were detected using hemagglutination assay and identified using hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of partial region of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes was done. Intravenous pathogenicity index assays were performed in chickens to assess pathogenicity of AI virus isolates. Serum samples were tested for detection of antibodies against AI viruses using HI assay. Results: A total of 57 AI H9N2, 15 AI H4N6 and 15 Newcastle Disease (NDV) viruses were isolated from chickens, from both backyard and wet poultry markets; AI H4N6 viruses were isolated from backyard chickens and domestic ducks. Characterization of AI H9N2 and H4N6 viruses revealed that they were of low pathogenicity. Domestic ducks were positive for antibodies against H5 and H7 viruses while chickens were positive for presence of antibodies against AI H9N2 and NDV. Conclusions: In the current scenario of HPAI H5N1 outbreaks in West Bengal, this report shows presence of low pathogenic AI H9N2 and H4N6 viruses in chickens and domestic ducks during the period 2009-2011. This is the first report of isolation of H4N6 from India. Antibodies against AI H5 and H7 in ducks highlight the probable role of domestic ducks in the transmission of AI viruses. Human infections of H9N2 have been reported from China and Hong Kong. This necessitates implementation of prevention and control measures to limit the spread of AI viruses. © 2012 Pawar et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Pawar S.,National Institute of Virology | Chakrabarti A.,National Institute of Virology | Cherian S.,National Institute of Virology | Pande S.,Ela Foundation | And 8 more authors.
Virus Genes | Year: 2010

Influenza surveillance in different wild bird populations is critical for understanding the persistence, transmission and evolution of these viruses. Avian influenza (AI) surveillance was undertaken in wild migratory and resident birds during the period 2007-2008, in view of the outbreaks of highly pathogenic AI (HPAI) H5N1 in poultry in India since 2006. In this study, we present the whole genome sequence data along with the genetic and virological characterization of an Influenza A(H11N1) virus isolated from wild aquatic bird for the first time from India. The virus was low pathogenicity and phylogenetic analysis revealed that it was distinct from reported H11N1 viruses. The hemagglutinin (HA) gene showed maximum similarity with A/semipalmatedsandpiper/ Delaware/2109/2000 (H11N6) and A/shorebird/Delaware/236/2003(H11N9) while the neuraminidase (NA) gene showed maximum similarity with A/duck/Mongolia/540/ 2001(H1N1). The virus thus possessed an HA gene of the American lineage. The NA and other six genes were of the Eurasian lineage and showed closer relatedness to non-H11 viruses. Such a genetic reassortment is unique and interesting, though the pathways leading to its emergence and its future persistence in the avian reservoir is yet to be fully established. © 2010 The Author(s).

Pande S.,Ela Foundation | Dahanukar N.,Indian Institute of Science
Journal of Raptor Research | Year: 2012

We studied reversed sexual dimorphism (RSD) and foraging behavior of Barn Owls (Tyto alba). Bill length, tarsus length, wing chord, tail length, and mass of Barn Owls showed RSD. Mass of the prey items brought by the males was significantly less than that brought by females, which may be attributed to the positive correlation between size of the owl and prey mass. However, male owls had a significantly higher frequency of visits with prey than did females. There was relatively little overlap in the species and mass of prey captured by males and females, suggesting that food-niche partitioning between the sexes may exist, possibly to reduce intersexual food competition. Further, because these differences were also observed between the male and female owls within each pair, our findings support reproductive role division as a possible explanation for RSD in Barn Owls. © 2012 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.

Pande S.,Ela Foundation | Pawashe A.,Ela Foundation | Mahajan M.,Ela Foundation | Mahabal A.,Zoological Survey of India | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Raptor Research | Year: 2011

The Rock Eagle-Owl (Bubo bengalensis) was recently recognized as a species, with a distribution restricted to the Indian subcontinent. We studied breeding biology, habitat use, diet, and nesting density of 44 pairs of Rock Eagle-Owls in western Maharashtra state (India) for two successive breeding seasons (2004-05 and 2005-06). We present here for the first time (a) egg shell thickness (0.305 ± 0.001 mm; range: 0.303-0.306 mm); (b) egg-laying interval (1.7 ± 0.5 d; range: 0.54 d); (c) incubation period (3334 d); (d) hatching pattern (asynchronous); (e) breeding success (1.5 ± 0.9 fledglings per occupied nest; range: 0-4 fledglings); and (f) post-fledging dependency period (6 mo, from April to September). Most productive nesting territories have several alternative nest sites and open landscapes such as agricultural lands and scrublands, which offer high-value foods including rodents, birds, and chiropterans. Early onset of breeding was positively correlated with the presence of high-value foods in the diet. © 2011 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.

Yosef R.,International Birding and Research Center in Eilat | Pande S.A.,Ela Foundation | Pawashe A.P.,Ela Foundation | Kasambe R.,Sevadal Mahila Mahavidyalaya | Mitchell L.,International Birding and Research Center in Eilat
Acta Ethologica | Year: 2010

The Forest Owlet (Athene blewitti) is critically endangered and at extremely high risk of extinction owing to its restricted distribution. An expedition was organized to determine the density of the Forest Owlet in the Melghat Tiger Reserve in February 2004 where they had been observed sporadically in the previous 5 years. We hoped to identify as many individuals as possible and to observe interspecific interactions in order to understand the social framework in which the species survives. A total of 43.4 km of jungle roads was checked; we confirmed the presence of three of the 13 previously reported individuals, and found 11 previously undetected owlets. Owlets were found in areas with several interconnected forest clearings which allowed the owlets to forage in them. In all cases where the Forest Owlet occurred, a village or agricultural fields of the indigenous people (Adivasis) was within a 0.5-km radius. It appears that Forest Owlets preferred to establish feeding territories in areas disturbed by anthropogenic activity such as clearing dead trees and undergrowth for fire, trampling undergrowth while searching for firewood, burning areas around the agricultural plots, or driving herds of cattle through the area. All of these activities appear to optimize the habitat for the sit-and-wait foraging Forest Owlet, facilitating detection and tracking of prey in open areas with sparse and short undergrowth, allowing a better all-round view due to a lower density of trees. © 2010 Springer-Verlag and ISPA.

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