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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #444668

Research Project: Ecology of Nipah Virus in Bangledash

Location: Zoonotic and Emerging Disease Research

Project Number: 3022-32000-027-005-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2026

Objective 1: To develop protocols and obtain permits for sampling wild animals living near bat roosts in Faridpur and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Objective 2: To collect biological samples from wild animals living near bat roosts, including sera for antibody testing.

Various species of wild cats, primates, canids (e.g., jackal, fox), mongooses, civets, rodents, shrews, and wild boar have been observed in our study area or are suspected based on geographic range. The two study areas where we will work include Faridpur District, the location with historically the most Nipah virus spillovers and where two large flying fox (Pteropus medius) roosts are present within village areas, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a newly established site where Rhinolophus spp. bats are present and our team has been collecting samples for coronaviruses testing. During the first year of the collaboration, we will work to develop sampling protocols, obtain capture and export permits from the Forest Department of Bangladesh and CITES, and perform the sampling at each study site. The following year will involve the serological testing of samples and shipment of biospecimens to partner labs for sequencing and isolation. This proposed timeline is necessary because of the extended lead time in setting up the primary study in Faridpur District and to reduce the rate of new sample testing required in the lab given the existing demands of the primary study. Due to the exploratory nature of this work, we do not have a target sample size for wild animals. Sample sizes for most species will likely be small (<10 individuals), although rodents and shrews are abundant, so maximum sample sizes will be established for each species in accordance with government recommendations. We will collect a small blood sample (5ml) from all animals for serological testing as well as oral, nasal, and rectal swabs for virus screening. For some species in our study area, particularly primates, we do not anticipate being able to capture individual animals to collect blood for serological testing. For these animals, we will pilot some alternative methods for blood sampling: 1) capturing mosquitoes feeding on primates, 2) observing the primate groups to note new births and attempting to collect placenta and other fluids/tissues from the environment, and 3) surveillance of carcasses. Blood-fed mosquitoes may be pooled from a sampling site to provide sufficient material for serological testing or other enhanced screening approaches (e.g., VirScan, deep sequencing). In our Chittagong Hill Tracts site, in addition to animal capture around the Rhinolophus roost sites, we will visit nearby wet markets to assess the wildlife species for sale and collect blood and swab samples from freshly killed animals. Blood serum samples will be transported to icddr,b and stored in a -80 freezer until shipment to participating US labs or testing in country in future years. Swab samples collected from wild animals will be stored in viral transport media and frozen in the field in liquid nitrogen. Swabs will be shipped from icddr,b to partner labs in the US at the end of sampling.