Even though low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIv) affect the poultry industry of several countries in the world, information about their transmission characteristics in poultry is sparse. Outbreak reports of LPAIv in layer chickens have described drops in egg production that appear to be correlated with the virus transmission dynamics. The objective of this study was to use egg production data from LPAIv infected layer flocks to quantify the within-flock transmission parameters of the virus. Egg production data from two commercial layer chicken flocks which were infected with an H7N3 LPAIv were used for this study. In addition, an isolate of the H7N3 LPAIv causing these outbreaks was used in a transmission experiment. The field and experimental estimates showed that this is a virus with high transmission characteristics. Furthermore, with the field method, the day of introduction of the virus into the flock was estimated. The method here presented uses compartmental models that assume homogeneous mixing. This method is, therefore, best suited to study transmission in commercial flocks with a litter (floor-reared) housing system. It would also perform better, when used to study transmission retrospectively, after the outbreak has finished and there is egg production data from recovered chickens. This method cannot be used when a flock was affected with a LPAIv with low transmission characteristics (R0 <2), since the drop in egg production would be low and likely to be confounded with the expected decrease in production due to aging of the flock. Because only two flocks were used for this analysis, this study is a preliminary basis for a proof of principle that transmission parameters of LPAIv infections in layer chicken flocks could be quantified using the egg production data from affected flocks.
- southern china