In Vietnam, for a number of specific geographical and historical reasons, the mountainous areas have preserved an exceptional diversity of wild and domestic animal species of high socioeconomic interest. This endemic genetic diversity fosters a rapid response to environmental change in mostly isolated local communities and, in particular, fosters the constant adaptation of ecosystems common to humans and farmed and wild animal populations and pathogens. During a 2-year study carried out in several mountainous regions of North Vietnam near the Chinese border, we surveyed 1697 breeders in 249 villages and gathered 5815 biological samples among the four main domesticated species of food animals: chickens, cattle, buffaloes, and goats. Serological analyses were carried out by ELISA on 726 sera in order to assess the prevalence of antibodies specific to two major diseases suspected to be present in the region: avian influenza (AI) and peste des petits ruminants (PPR). The results reported here reveal the presence of antibodies specific to AI, but not the H5N1 highly pathogenic strain, and the presence of antibodies specific to PPR, confirming that this disease, never previously described in Southeast Asia, is present in this region, with no mortality and little or no evidence of clinical cases. These are probably situations of co-evolutive epidemiological equilibrium between pathogen populations, which may have lost their virulence, and animal populations that have acquired genetic resistances over generations, either naturally or through genetic introgression from related wild species better adapted to such pathogens. These results suggest the need for more research, both short-term and, more globally, long-term.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 01/2009; 1149(1):259-62. DOI:10.1196/annals.1428.086 · 4.31 Impact Factor