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In May 2017, together with our partners on Peninsular Malaysia, Conservation Medicine and EcoHealth Alliance started the Serological Biosurveillance for the Spillover of Henipaviruses and Filoviruses at Agricultural and Hunting Human-Animal Interfaces. This project, funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Biological Threat Reduction Program, will strengthen capacity for serological surveillance within national labs and characterise henipavirus and filovirus exposure in bats, livestock and people.

This project has enhanced capacity within Malaysia to detect known and unknown henipaviruses and filoviruses. Conducting active surveillance in wildlife, livestock and people in hunting and agricultural communities has found serological evidence of exposure to henipaviruses and filoviruses in people, macaques, and bats. Preliminary results have found antibodies against Nipah-like and Ebola-like viruses in bats, (some may be secondary or spillover hosts) and for the first time, found antibodies against Mojiang, Ghana, and Ebola antigenically-related viruses in macaques. This project has also found the first evidence of antibodies against Ghana and Mojiang antigenically-related viruses in people in Malaysia.

Surveillance of Orang Asli and agricultural communities, livestock and wildlife will continue to detect the spillover of henipaviruses and filoviruses. We are working to identify the viruses that may be causing the observed immune responses and will try to determine whether infection leads to disease in these exposed populations.

With our partners at the Uniformed Services University we have trained 25 people to use the Luminex platform, including 7 staff from the Ministry of Health, 4 from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, 4 from the Department of Veterinary Services, 2 from Universiti Putra Malaysia, 3 from Universiti Malaya and 5 of our team.

Collaboration with our government partners increases our ability to detect spillover of important human and livestock pathogens from wildlife reservoirs and develop targeted strategies to reduce the risk of epidemics, supporting efforts to place the government of Malaysia at the forefront of bio-surveillance for high consequence viral pathogens. Serology can help us understand viral spillover and inform zoonotic disease surveillance and research programs.

Conservation Medicine and EcoHealth Alliance are committed to working with our Malaysian partners to continue training and capacity building efforts; to identify the viruses causing these observed immune responses; to continue disease surveillance using molecular and serological techniques at high-risk interfaces and in hospital settings; to identify which new pathogens pose a risk to humans, wildlife and livestock and improve diagnostics. This effort will help to build on our readiness to respond to the next Disease X.

Project Partners

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