Risk maps for the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry

G.J. Boender, T.H.J. Hagenaars, A. Bouma, G. Nodelijk, A.R.W. Elbers, M.C.M. de Jong, R.M. van Boven

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


    Devastating epidemics of highly contagious animal diseases like avian influenza, classical swine fever, and foot-and-mouth disease underline the need for improved understanding of the factors promoting the spread of these pathogens. Here we present a spatial analysis of the between-farm transmission of a highly pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza virus that caused a large epidemic in The Netherlands in 2003. We develop a method to estimate key parameters determining the spread of highly transmissible animal diseases between farms based on outbreak data. The method enables us to identify high-risk areas for propagating spread in an epidemiologically underpinned manner. A central concept is the transmission kernel which determines the probability of pathogen transmission from infected to uninfected farms as a function of inter-farm distance. We show how an estimate of the transmission kernel naturally provides estimates of the critical farm density and local reproduction numbers, which allows one to evaluate the effectiveness of control strategies. For avian influenza our analyses show that there are two poultry-dense areas in The Netherlands where epidemic spread is possible, and in which local control measures are unlikely to be able to halt an unfolding epidemic. In these regions an epidemic can only be brought to an end by the depletion of susceptible farms by infection or massive culling. Our analyses provide an estimate of the spatial range over which highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses spread between farms, and emphasize that control measures aimed at controlling such outbreaks need to take into account the local density of farms
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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