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Text by Tee Thye Lim
Photo by Dr. Sen Nathan and Tee Thye Lim
Avian Influenza, HIV/AIDS, SARS, and H1N1 are the types of diseases that share one common trait – they are animal-related. In other words, they are zoonotic diseases which are able to transmit between animals and humans.
A 4-day Regional Training Workshop on Surveillance and Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases from Wildlife was held starting on the 26th November 2012. The workshop was organized by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) cooperating with EcoHealth Alliance (partner of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program).
Crews from Sabah Wildlife Rescues Unit (WRU), Sabah Wildlife Health Unit (WHU), Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) were invited to participate in the workshop to learn more about the emerging infectious diseases from wildlife, since most of the participants will be the front line dealing with wildlife, knowledge on safety precautions and diseases is very important in order to avoid unhappy incidents.
The EPT program consists of four projects: PREDICT, RESPOND, IDENTIFY and PREVENT. Within these four days, the workshop covered the part of PREDICT project. As a PREDICT partner, country coordinator of EcoHealth Alliance, Mr. Tom Hughes has launched a research with a connection between local conservation and global health. PREDICT partners locate their research in the geographic “hot spot” and focus on wildlife that is most likely to carry zoonotic diseases-animals such as bats, rodents, and non-human primates.
The workshop covered the practices and topics below:
1. Zoonoses of rodents, primates and bats
2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hand Washing
3. Laboratory Safety
4. Sample Storage
5. Animal Capture for Sampling
6. Discussion On Field Site Selection and Deep Forest Sampling Methods and
7. PPE Equipment Demonstration
8. Mask Fit Test
9. Sampling, Identification, and Data Collection
When sampling at the field, remember that safety comes first. We do not know what kind of diseases are being carried by the sampling target, it could be dangerous or vital. By understanding the zoonotic diseases, the threat can be minimized by wearing proper PPE like gloves, masks and protection goggles.
This practice plays an important role in the prevention of zoonotic diseases.
When sampling wildlife, animal welfare comes first. Proper techniques of restraining and handling animals were practiced during the workshop. This session aims to show participants how improper techniques can potentially harm the animals or handler. During this workshop, bats and rodents were chosen as samples to show participants a proper way of carrying out a sampling.
The "Three-Rs" strategies were introduced and practiced during the workshop. The Rs stand for:
Replacement: Consider environmental sampling
Reduction: Fewest animals
Refinement: Most humane, least invasive techniques
The main idea of the “Three-Rs” concept is to minimize the impact of sampling to the wildlife population.
The Training Workshop on Surveillance and Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases from Wildlife ended on 29th Nov 2012 with handing over of certificates to all the participants.
Now BSBCC has something on PPE that needs to catch up. Some rules and regulations may need to be added into our list to be applied in our Centre soon!!