Potential Spread of HPAI Virus via Dynamic Contacts between Poultry Premises28 December 2011
After developing a simulation model of the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus between farms serviced by catching companies and surrounding geographical areas, researchers based at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland stress the importance of retaining up-to-date data on poultry premises so that control measures can be effectively prioritised in case of an outbreak.
HPAI viruses have had devastating effects on poultry industries worldwide, and there is concern about the potential for HPAI outbreaks in the poultry industry in Great Britain (GB), according to Jennifer Dent of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and co-authors there and at Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, University of Sussex and the University of Leeds. In a paper published in BMC Veterinary Research, the researchers explained that critical to the potential for HPAI to spread between poultry premises are the connections made between farms by movements related to human activity.
Movement records of catching teams and slaughterhouse vehicles were obtained from a large catching company, and these data were used in a simulation model of HPAI spread between farms serviced by the catching company, and surrounding geographical areas. The spread of HPAI through real-time movements was modelled, with the addition of spread via company personnel and local transmission.
The model predicted that although large outbreaks are rare, they may occur, with long distances between infected premises. Final outbreak size was most sensitive to the probability of spread via slaughterhouse-linked movements, whereas the probability of onward spread beyond an index premises was most sensitive to the frequency of company personnel movements.
Results obtained from this study show that, whilst there is the possibility that HPAI virus will jump from one cluster of farms to another, movements made by catching teams connected fewer poultry premises in an outbreak situation than slaughterhouses and company personnel. Dent and co-authors add that the potential connection of a large number of infected farms, however, highlights the importance of retaining up-to-date data on poultry premises so that control measures can be effectively prioritised in an outbreak situation.
Dent J.E., I.Z. Kiss, R.R. Kao and M. Arnold. 2011. The potential spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus via dynamic contacts between poultry premises in Great Britain. BMC Veterinary Research, 7:59. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-59
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