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The potential spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus via dynamic contacts between poultry premises in Great Britain

Dent, J. E. and Kiss, I. Z. and Kao, R. R. and Arnold, M. (2011) The potential spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus via dynamic contacts between poultry premises in Great Britain. BMC Veterinary Research, 7 (59). ISSN 1746-6148

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Abstract

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (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). 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 (geographic) 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. 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.