As one of the more developed countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand is an optimal place to expand and build a robust wildlife disease surveillance system. Thailand is ahead of other countries in the region with a well-established wildlife and national park system and some linkages between environment, wildlife, and health ministries already in place. Through PREDICT activities we can further increase capacity for wildlife surveillance and expand linkages. Thailand is an ecologically diverse nation with a central geographic position among neighboring Southeast Asian states. It covers a range of ecosystem types, from mangroves to rainforests, spread across southern boundaries with Malaysia, northern boundaries with Myanmar and Lao, and to the eastern border with Cambodia. Southeast Asia in general, and Thailand in particular, host some of the greatest wildlife biodiversity on Earth, the highest rate of tropical deforestation in the past decade, and a rapidly growing human population - bringing human settlements and commercial agriculture into close proximity with a range of wildlife species. In addition, the illegal wildlife trade is pervasive in Southeast Asia, including Thailand. All these factors create a high level of risk to exposure with zoonotic pathogens and make Thailand an important site for PREDICT activities. We also have recognized a high level of enthusiasm from our in-country partners to improve linkages between government ministries and integrate wildlife surveillance into the public health structure, and view this as a positive sign that PREDICT activities will be successful in Thailand. PREDICT implementing partner: EcoHealth Alliance.
Country Coordinator: Supaporn Wacharapluesadee, PhD
Dr. Supaporn Wacharapluesadee is the laboratory chief of Neuroscience Center for Research and Development and associate director of WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training on Viral Zoonoses, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok Thailand. From 1994-1997, she worked in the malaria research laboratory of the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences. In 1997, she worked at Chulabhorn Research Institute in the area of cancer research. From 1998-2000, her work focused on HIV research at The HIV/AIDS Collaboration Thai-USA. She started working at Chulalongkorn University in 2000 in the Neurology Division, Department of Medicine. Her current research focus is in the area of viral encephalitis and zoonoses. Her interests are on diagnostics, pathogenesis, and surveillance research. She has developed several nucleic acid amplification methods for ante-mortem detection of rabies virus in humans and post-mortem diagnosis in animals. She has developed the PCR protocols for Nipah virus detection from biological samples which is the most sensitive and reliable among other published protocol. Supaporn and her colleagues have engaged in wildlife research since 2002. Her group has found that Nipah virus infected bats in Thailand and demonstrated the seasonal prevalence of Nipah virus transmission in Pteropus lylei. Supaporn‘s surveillance team include various scientific disciplines such as medical doctors, veterinarians, wildlife veterinarians, wildlife zoologists and scientists. The One Health approach is being used in her current research. The collaboration involves government and academic sectors, and the local community.