By Nigel Walker 

The urban settlements of Kathmandu have grown rapidly in recent years, mostly as a result of migration from Nepal’s rural areas. The living conditions in the settlements can be poor, and some residents have little access to basic health services.

The UC Davis One Health Institute has been working with The Center for Molecular Dynamics, Nepal to do surveillance to detect zoonotic viruses in areas where there’s a high level of interaction between wildlife and humans. The work is part of the PREDICT project, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

The field team sets rodent traps along predetermined transect-lines running through the urban settlements and along the river. Traps are set both inside and outside the homes. Once the rodents are trapped they are taken to a temporary tent where they are anesthetized, and then samples are collected for testing. The rodents are released a short distance away from the original capture point.

The samples are then brought to a lab to be tested for zoonotic viruses – those diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans. The results are compiled in a database and used to help predict and respond to diseases of pandemic potential.