Modelling the wind-borne spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus between farms

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A quantitative understanding of the spread of contaminated farm dust between locations is a prerequisite for obtaining much-needed insight into one of the possible mechanisms of disease spread between farms. Here, we develop a model to calculate the quantity of contaminated farm-dust particles deposited at various locations downwind of a source farm and apply the model to assess the possible contribution of the wind-borne route to the transmission of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus (HPAI) during the 2003 epidemic in the Netherlands. The model is obtained from a Gaussian Plume Model by incorporating the dust deposition process, pathogen decay, and a model for the infection process on exposed farms. Using poultry- and avian influenza-specific parameter values we calculate the distance-dependent probability of between-farm transmission by this route. A comparison between the transmission risk pattern predicted by the model and the pattern observed during the 2003 epidemic reveals that the wind-borne route alone is insufficient to explain the observations although it could contribute substantially to the spread over short distance ranges, for example, explaining 24% of the transmission over distances up to 25 km.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31114
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • mouth-disease virus
  • swine-fever virus
  • livestock buildings
  • commercial poultry
  • airborne spread
  • great-britain
  • risk-factors
  • a virus
  • epidemic
  • foot


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