Collaborative study on Ecology of influenza viruses with CEIRS, St Jude Children Hospital
Background & Objectives:
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance and NCAH began working together since 2008 for outbreak response and diagnostic workshop. Following this work, St. Jude Center of Excellence supported efforts by NCAH to expand diagnostic (rapid field test and real time PCR) capabilities in Bhutan in late 2009 and early 2010. Domestic and wild bird samples were collected from January 2010 to extend the collaboration to the field. Aliquots of samples were transferred to St. Jude Center of Excellence for real time testing to serve as a reference/quality control for the newly established real time PCR capabilities of NCAH.
NCAH and St Jude are collaborating on ongoing surveillance of influenza viruses in both domestic and wild animal reservoirs. Activities includes sample collection and transport in Bhutan, real time PCR analysis of samples in Bhutan, transport of a subset of positive and negative samples to St. Jude Center of Excellence for validation combined with further characterization (immunogenic testing and virus sequencing) of circulating viruses. Specific objectives are as listed under
1. To describe the epidemiology of influenza in Bhutan.
2. Training of personnel in the areas of influenza specific diagnostics (real time PCR, HI/HA, and viral culture if desired), laboratory operations, and biosafety.
3. To characterize influenza isolates at a molecular level.
4. Surveillance: Feces, pharyngeal and cloacal swabs from domestic animals (poultry and indigenous swine population).
5. Collect feces or if possible cloacal and pharyngeal swabs from wild birds migrating through Bhutan.
6. Establish a system for transfer and sharing of data between St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Center of Excellence and the National Centre for Animal Health in Bhutan, in compliance with the NIAID contract Data Release Plan.
Sample referral and results
In all, a total of 1995 swab samples from poultry, ducks and wild birds were referred to St. Judes from the Year 2010 to May, 2014. In this collaborative study, of 1995 samples 46 samples had HPAI H5N1 virus isolated and were clade 188.8.131.52 from outbreak areas of Chukha, Thimphu and Mongar Districts. This clade is antigenically similar to the 2011 chicken virus clade of India and virus sequence is identical from migratory wild birds and poultry.