Vulnerabilities for Exposure to Emerging Infectious Disease at Urban Settlements in Nepal

David Wolking, Dibesh Karmacharya, Manisha Bista, Rima Shrestha, Pranav Pandit, Ajay Sharma, Sulochana Manandhar, Bishwo Shrestha, Shailendra Bajracharya, Tarka Bhatta, Santosh Dulal, Rajesh Rajbhandari, Brett Smith, Jonna Mazet, Tracey Goldstein, Christine Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Nepal, rapid urbanization and rural-to-urban migration especially due to internal civil conflict have catalyzed the development of temporary settlements, often along rivers on undeveloped land. This study conducted surveillance for viruses in small mammals and assessed potential risks for virus transmission to people in urban settlements along rivers in Kathmandu, Nepal. We collected samples from 411 small mammals (100 rodents and 311 shrews) at four riverside settlement sites and detected six viruses from four virus families including Thottapalayam virus; a strain of murine coronavirus; two new paramyxoviruses; and two new rhabdoviruses. Additionally, we conducted surveys of 264 residents to characterize animal–human contact. Forty-eight percent of individuals reported contact with wildlife, primarily with rodents and shrews (91%). Our findings confirm that rodents and shrews should be considered a health threat for residents of temporary settlements, and that assessment of disease transmission risk coupled with targeted surveillance for emerging pathogens could lead to improved disease control and health security for urban populations. Additionally, interventions focused on disease prevention should consider the unique urban ecology and social dynamics in temporary settlements, along with the importance of community engagement for identifying solutions that address specific multi-dimensional challenges that life on the urban river margins presents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-358
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Emerging infectious diseases
  • Interface
  • Nepal
  • Spillover
  • Urban
  • Vulnerability
  • Zoonoses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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