Sunday, May 13, 2012

Emerging disease threat to proboscis monkey

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) recently organised a one-day training workshop on zoonotic diseases, or diseases transmitted between wildlife and humans, at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

Staff from SWD Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU), DGFC, WWF and the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, attended the training provided by EHA.

“We recently started a collaboration with the EcoHealth Alliance and the PREDICT programme on emerging diseases, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),” explained Dr Laurentius Ambu, director of SWD.

The PREDICT project is a component of the USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threats program, which works globally to pre-empt and combat diseases that could spark future pandemics.

“Emerging diseases are very important to consider because wildlife and people get closer and closer due to habitat loss and degradation. Diseases are driven by stressed ecosystems, expanding human populations and fractured natural habitats, something more and more common in our environment,” added Ambu.

“The objective of PREDICT is to build a global early warning system for emerging diseases that move between wildlife and people,” explained Tom Hughes, project coordinator for EHA in Malaysia.

“Zoonotic pathogens often don’t cause disease in natural hosts, it is therefore very important to conduct surveillance of ‘healthy’ animals. This is what we are starting in Sabah in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and other institutions such as Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the NGO HUTAN,” said Hughes.

“It is important to remember that most animal viruses spill over into human populations because of our own activities that bring us into closer contact with wildlife, added Hughes.

“One of our goals with PREDICT is to identify which viruses in wildlife are most likely to infect people, which human activities bring people into contact with wildlife in a way that increases risk of disease transmission and work with our partners to reduce the risk of people and wildlife coming into contact, so that these viruses never make the leap into human populations, he added.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the training provided by EHA to SWD Wildlife Rescue Unit and DGFC staff was put into practice recently during proboscis monkey sampling in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a conservation programme fully sponsored by Sime Darby Foundation.

“Five individuals were captured for blood, saliva and parasite sampling and then released into the forest. We used personal protective equipment (PPE) consisting of Tyvek coveralls, shoe covers, respirators, goggles and gloves. We also followed strict safety procedures for washing hands and equipment after the captures,” he said.

Ambu added: “EHA is supporting the department in establishing and training a Wildlife Health Unit based at SWD, in helping develop local laboratory capacity for viral diagnostics at the newly established Wildlife Rescue Centre in  Potuki (Lok Kawi), and in providing technical expertise and assistance for lab and field activities.

“Our department is delighted to have set up this collaboration with EHA. Wildlife and people’s health need to be considered in our conservation management plans.”

Green Sabah says: We have to be more cautious with our activities that involve some contacts with the wildlife in order to prevent the risk of disease transmission.


Moktar said...

These zoonotic diseases must be controlled to prevent it from spreading to the other wildlife. Hopefully this will not affect the prosboscis monkeys.

Moktar said...

Sabah Wildlife Department must find out the cause of these diseases so that they may help prevent the spread of these zoonotic diseases.

Anna said...

Hope that this training workshop will help spread the awareness about the zoonotic diseases as well as diseases transmitted from wildlife to humans.

Anna said...

The SWD will find the cure to these diseases to prevent it from threatening the proboscis species or the human health.

Khalid said...

Dengan adanya kerjasama dengan EHA, SWD bolehlah menjaga aspek kesihatan manusia semasa menjalani program pemuliharaan spesis liar.

Don said...

Semoga kuman ini tidak merebak dan harus dikawal.

Anonymous said...

apa2 jangkitan kena dielakkan.

Jeff Ambuyat said...

hopefully PREDICT will be able to save our wildlife and also human life..

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