EMPRES Wildlife Unit

Rome, Italy

EMPRES Wildlife Unit

Rome, Italy
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Newman S.H.,EMPRES Wildlife Unit | Hill N.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Hill N.J.,University of California at Davis | Spragens K.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 14 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

A unique pattern of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreaks has emerged along the Central Asia Flyway, where infection of wild birds has been reported with steady frequency since 2005. We assessed the potential for two hosts of HPAI H5N1, the bar-headed goose (Anser indicus) and ruddy shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), to act as agents for virus dispersal along this 'thoroughfare'. We used an eco-virological approach to compare the migration of 141 birds marked with GPS satellite transmitters during 2005-2010 with: 1) the spatio-temporal patterns of poultry and wild bird outbreaks of HPAI H5N1, and 2) the trajectory of the virus in the outbreak region based on phylogeographic mapping. We found that biweekly utilization distributions (UDs) for 19.2% of bar-headed geese and 46.2% of ruddy shelduck were significantly associated with outbreaks. Ruddy shelduck showed highest correlation with poultry outbreaks owing to their wintering distribution in South Asia, where there is considerable opportunity for HPAI H5N1 spillover from poultry. Both species showed correlation with wild bird outbreaks during the spring migration, suggesting they may be involved in the northward movement of the virus. However, phylogeographic mapping of HPAI H5N1 clades 2.2 and 2.3 did not support dissemination of the virus in a northern direction along the migration corridor. In particular, two subclades (2.2.1 and 2.3.2) moved in a strictly southern direction in contrast to our spatio-temporal analysis of bird migration. Our attempt to reconcile the disciplines of wild bird ecology and HPAI H5N1 virology highlights prospects offered by both approaches as well as their limitations. © 2012 Newman et al.


Muzaffar S.B.,U.S. Geological Survey | Muzaffar S.B.,University of California at Davis | Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | Prosser D.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 2 more authors.
Waterbirds | Year: 2010

Wild waterfowl are the reservoir for avian influenza viruses (AIVs), a family of RNA viruses that may cause mild sickness in waterbirds. Emergence of H5N1, a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain, causing severe disease and mortality in wild birds, poultry and humans, had raised concerns about the role of wild birds in possible transmission of the disease. In this review, the link between rice production systems, poultry production systems, and wild bird ecology is examined to assess the extent to which these interactions could contribute towards the persistence and evolution of HPAI H5N1. The rice (Oryza sativa) and poultry production systems in Asia described, and then migration and movements of wild birds discussed. Mixed farming systems in Asia and wild bird movement and migration patterns create opportunities for the persistence of low pathogenic AIVs in these systems. Nonetheless, there is no evidence of long-term persistence of HPAI viruses (including the H5N1 subtype) in the wild. There are still significant gaps in the understanding of how AIVs circulate in rice systems. A better understanding of persistence of AIVs in rice farms, particularly of poultry origins, is essential in limiting exchange of AIVs between mixed-farming systems, poultry and wild birds.


Prosser D.J.,Patuxent Wildlife Research Center | Prosser D.J.,University of Maryland University College | Cui P.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Cui P.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | And 17 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Background: Qinghai Lake in central China has been at the center of debate on whether wild birds play a role in circulation of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1. In 2005, an unprecedented epizootic at Qinghai Lake killed more than 6000 migratory birds including over 3000 bar-headed geese (Anser indicus). H5N1 subsequently spread to Europe and Africa, and in following years has re-emerged in wild birds along the Central Asia flyway several times. Methodology/Principal Findings: To better understand the potential involvement of wild birds in the spread of H5N1, we studied the movements of bar-headed geese marked with GPS satellite transmitters at Qinghai Lake in relation to virus outbreaks and disease risk factors. We discovered a previously undocumented migratory pathway between Qinghai Lake and the Lhasa Valley of Tibet where 93% of the 29 marked geese overwintered. From 2003-2009, sixteen outbreaks in poultry or wild birds were confirmed on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the majority were located within the migratory pathway of the geese. Spatial and temporal concordance between goose movements and three potential H5N1 virus sources (poultry farms, a captive bar-headed goose facility, and H5N1 outbreak locations) indicated ample opportunities existed for virus spillover and infection of migratory geese on the wintering grounds. Their potential as a vector of H5N1 was supported by rapid migration movements of some geese and genetic relatedness of H5N1 virus isolated from geese in Tibet and Qinghai Lake. Conclusions/Significance: This is the first study to compare phylogenetics of the virus with spatial ecology of its host, and the combined results suggest that wild birds play a role in the spread of H5N1 in this region. However, the strength of the evidence would be improved with additional sequences from both poultry and wild birds on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau where H5N1 has a clear stronghold.


Iverson S.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Katzner T.E.,West Virgina University | Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | Miller T.A.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History | And 6 more authors.
Ibis | Year: 2011

Waterfowl in the genera Anas and Tadorna are suspected as vectors in the long-distance transmission of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1. The former Soviet Republics of Central Asia are situated at an important migratory crossroads for these and other species of birds that bridges regions where the disease is prevalent. However, waterfowl movements through Central Asia are poorly quantified. In this study, historical data derived from over 80years of bird ringing are combined with recent satellite tracking data to delineate migration routes, movement chronology and habitat use patterns of waterfowl in relation to H5N1 outbreak locations. Results confirm migratory linkage between breeding and moulting areas in northern Kazakhstan and southern Siberia, with non-breeding areas in the Caspian, Black and eastern Mediterranean Sea basins, as well as with South Asia. However, unlike the situation in neighbouring regions, most notably western China, H5N1 outbreaks have not been recurrent in Central Asia after they were first reported during summer 2005 and spring 2006. These findings have implications in relation to potential sampling biases, species-specific variation in migratory behaviour and continuing regional H5N1 transmission risks. No claim to original US Government works. Journal compilation © 2011 British Ornithologists' Union.


Gilbert M.,Roosevelt University | Gilbert M.,INRS - Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique | Newman S.H.,EMPRES Wildlife Unit | Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 16 more authors.
EcoHealth | Year: 2010

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus persists in Asia, posing a threat to poultry, wild birds, and humans. Previous work in Southeast Asia demonstrated that HPAI H5N1 risk is related to domestic ducks and people. Other studies discussed the role of migratory birds in the long distance spread of HPAI H5N1. However, the interplay between local persistence and long-distance dispersal has never been studied. We expand previous geospatial risk analysis to include South and Southeast Asia, and integrate the analysis with migration data of satellite-tracked wild waterfowl along the Central Asia flyway. We find that the population of domestic duck is the main factor delineating areas at risk of HPAI H5N1 spread in domestic poultry in South Asia, and that other risk factors, such as human population and chicken density, are associated with HPAI H5N1 risk within those areas. We also find that satellite tracked birds (Ruddy Shelduck and two Bar-headed Geese) reveal a direct spatio-temporal link between the HPAI H5N1 hot-spots identified in India and Bangladesh through our risk model, and the wild bird outbreaks in May-June-July 2009 in China (Qinghai Lake), Mongolia, and Russia. This suggests that the continental-scale dynamics of HPAI H5N1 are structured as a number of persistence areas delineated by domestic ducks, connected by rare transmission through migratory waterfowl. © 2011 The Author(s).


Mishra N.,Indian Veterinary Research Institute | Kalaiyarasu S.,Indian Veterinary Research Institute | Nagarajan S.,Indian Veterinary Research Institute | Rao M.V.S.,Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO | And 6 more authors.
Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases | Year: 2012

To assess West Nile virus (WNV) infection in wild resident and migratory birds, we tested 3887 samples from 1784 birds belonging to 119 identified species within 30 families collected during 2008-10 from 13 states in India. The serum samples were tested for WNV antibodies initially by a competition ELISA and subsequently by a micro-plaque reduction neutralization test (Micro-PRNT), whereas tracheal and cloacal swabs were subjected to real-time RT-PCR for the detection of the WNV RNA. Twenty six birds (2.46%) out of 1058 tested showed evidence of flavivirus antibodies by ELISA. End point neutralization antibody determinations for WNV and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) showed that of the 22 ELISA positive sera, WNV-specific neutralizing antibodies were detected in 17 samples representing nine species of wild birds (residents: Purple swamphen, Little cormorant, Little egret, Black ibis and Spot-billed duck; residents with winter influx: Common coot and Mallard; migratory birds: Ruff and Purple heron), and two samples were positive for both WNV and JEV antibodies. The WNV-specific antibodies were most commonly detected in Mallards and Common coots. WNV genomic RNA was not detected by real-time RT-PCR. The results in this study suggest that wild resident birds are infected occasionally and wild migratory birds rarely with WNV. Additionally, our study provides evidence of WNV infection in eastern and northern India for the first time. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Cappelle J.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Gaidet N.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Iverson S.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 4 more authors.
International Journal of Health Geographics | Year: 2011

Background: Characterizing the interface between wild and domestic animal populations is increasingly recognized as essential in the context of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) that are transmitted by wildlife. More specifically, the spatial and temporal distribution of contact rates between wild and domestic hosts is a key parameter for modeling EIDs transmission dynamics. We integrated satellite telemetry, remote sensing and ground-based surveys to evaluate the spatio-temporal dynamics of indirect contacts between wild and domestic birds to estimate the risk that avian pathogens such as avian influenza and Newcastle viruses will be transmitted between wildlife to poultry. We monitored comb ducks (Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos) with satellite transmitters for seven months in an extensive Afro-tropical wetland (the Inner Niger Delta) in Mali and characterise the spatial distribution of backyard poultry in villages. We modelled the spatial distribution of wild ducks using 250-meter spatial resolution and 8-days temporal resolution remotely-sensed environmental indicators based on a Maxent niche modelling method.Results: Our results show a strong seasonal variation in potential contact rate between wild ducks and poultry. We found that the exposure of poultry to wild birds was greatest at the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season, when comb ducks disperse from natural water bodies to irrigated areas near villages.Conclusions: Our study provides at a local scale a quantitative evidence of the seasonal variability of contact rate between wild and domestic bird populations. It illustrates a GIS-based methodology for estimating epidemiological contact rates at the wildlife and livestock interface integrating high-resolution satellite telemetry and remote sensing data. © 2011 Cappelle et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Cappelle J.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Iverson S.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | Newman S.H.,EMPRES Wildlife Unit | And 2 more authors.
Ostrich | Year: 2011

We provide recommendations for implementing telemetry studies on waterfowl on the basis of our experience in a tracking study conducted in three countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of the study was to document movements by duck species identified as priority candidates for the potential spread of avian influenza. Our study design included both captive and field test components on four wild duck species (Garganey, Comb Duck, White-faced Duck and Fulvous Duck). We used our location data to evaluate marking success and determine when signal loss occurred. The captive study of eight ducks marked with non-working transmitters in a zoo in Montpellier, France, prior to fieldwork showed no evidence of adverse effects, and the harness design appeared to work well. The field study in Malawi, Nigeria and Mali started in 2007 on 2 February, 6 February and 14 February, and ended on 22 November 2007 (288 d), 20 January 2010 (1 079 d), and 3 November 2008 (628 d), respectively. The field study indicated that 38 of 47 (81%) of the platform transmitter terminals (PTTs) kept transmitting after initial deployment, and the transmitters provided 15 576 locations. Signal loss during the field study was attributed to three main causes: PTT loss, PTT failure and mortality (natural, human-caused and PTT-related). The PTT signal quality varied by geographic region, and interference caused signal loss in the Mediterranean Sea region. We recommend careful attention at the beginning of the study to determine the optimum timing of transmitter deployment and the number of transmitters to be deployed per species. These sample sizes should be calculated by taking into account region-specific causes of signal loss to ensure research objectives are met. These recommendations should be useful for researchers undertaking a satellite tracking program, especially when working in remote areas of Africa where logistics are difficult or with poorly-known species. © NISC (Pty) Ltd.


Takekawa J.Y.,U.S. Geological Survey | Prosser D.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Newman S.H.,EMPRES Wildlife Unit | Muzaffar S.B.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 8 more authors.
Avian Biology Research | Year: 2010

The emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses has raised concerns about the role of wild birds in the spread and persistence of the disease. In 2005, an outbreak of the highly pathogenic subtype H5N1 killed more than 6,000 wild waterbirds at Qinghai Lake, China. Outbreaks have continued to periodically occur in wild birds at Qinghai Lake and elsewhere in Central China and Mongolia. This region has few poultry but is a major migration and breeding area for waterbirds in the Central Asian Flyway, although relatively little is known about migratory movements of different species and connectivity of their wetland habitats. The scientific debate has focused on the role of waterbirds in the epidemiology, maintenance and spread of HPAI H5N1: to what extent are they victims affected by the disease, or vectors that have a role in disease transmission? In this review, we summarise the current knowledge of wild bird involvement in the ecology of HPAI H5N1. Specifically, we present details on: (1) origin of HPAI H5N1; (2) waterbirds as LPAI reservoirs and evolution into HPAI; (3) the role of waterbirds in virus spread and persistence; (4) key biogeographic regions of outbreak; and (5) applying an ecological research perspective to studying AIVs in wild waterbirds and their ecosystems.


Birt T.P.,Queen's University | Sun Z.,Queen's University | Carter H.R.,California Institute of Environmental Studies | Whitworth D.L.,California Institute of Environmental Studies | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2010

Twelve polymorphic microsatellite loci were isolated and characterized for one subspecies of the Xantus's murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus scrippsi), a threatened seabird. Using blood samples obtained from 40 birds captured at Santa Barbara Island, California, in April-May 1996, 3-14 alleles per locus were detected, and expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.25 to 0.90. Genotype frequencies showed no departures from Hardy- Weinberg expectations. Linkage is suspected in one pair of loci. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009.

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