South East Asia has some of the greatest wildlife biodiversity on earth, and has experienced some of the most rapid deforestation, bringing human settlements and commercial agriculture into close proximity with wildlife. In addition, the illegal wildlife trade is pervasive throughout Asia, and with China’s sharp economic growth, there has been a surging demand for wildlife and wildlife products. Many of these animals are brought in via trade routes from Southeast Asia into southern China. Bushmeat hunting for sport and food, as well as for trade to other countries brings people into close contact with a large variety of wildlife and creates a high level of risk to exposure of zoonotic pathogens. Guangdong Province is where the first cases of SARS were reported in November 2002. Animals that wind up in Guangdong are often brought in via trade routes that pass through provinces that border Southeast Asian countries such as Laos and Vietnam. PREDICT China is partnering with Guangdong CDC, Yunan CDC, East China Normal University’s Life Sciences Department, Guangdong Entomological Institute/South China Institute of Endangered Animals and the Wuhan Institute of Virology to determine the diversity of animal hosts and potentially zoonotic pathogens that exist in wildlife within the live animal trade. EcoHealth Alliance and Metabiota have collaborated in the past several years to establish a study that monitors emerging zoonotic diseases among high-risk populations (hunters, butchers, market workers), in order to prevent spillover events such as the one that led to the SARS Coronavirus pandemic in 2003. We are targeting our wildlife surveillance in areas of high human-wildlife contact and will initiate linkages of labs in China with our lab partners outside China (including in the U.S. and Australia) to facilitate technology transfer.
Country Coordinator. Dr. Shuyi Zhang, East China Normal University
Zhang Shuyi, Ph.D. Professor of East China Normal University, Shanghai, China. Dr. Zhang is Dean of the Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Technology. He has published extensively on the emergence of SARS, avian influenza, and the diseases and adaptive evolution of bats and other mammals.