The objective of this study was to elicit experts' opinions and gather estimates on the perceived probability of introduction and spread of avian influenza (AI) virus in the Australian broiler and layer industry. Using a modified Delphi method and a 4-step elicitation process, 11 experts were asked to give initial individual estimates for the various pathways and practices in the presented scenarios using a questionnaire. Following this, a workshop was conducted to present group averages of estimates and discussion was facilitated to obtain final individual estimates. For each question, estimates for all experts were combined using a discrete distribution, with weights allocated representing the level of expertise. Indirect contact with wild birds either via a contaminated water source or fomites was considered the most likely pathway of introduction of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) on poultry farms. Presence of a water body near the poultry farm was considered a potential pathway for introduction only when the operation type was free range and the water body was within 500m distance from the shed. The probability that LPAI will mutate to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was considered to be higher in layer farms. Shared personnel, equipment and aerosol dispersion were the most likely pathways of shed to shed spread of the virus. For LPAI and HPAI spread from farm to farm, shared pick-up trucks for broiler and shared egg trays and egg pallets for layer farms were considered the most likely pathways. Findings from this study provide an insight on most influential practices on the introduction and spread of AI virus among commercial poultry farms in Australia, as elicited from opinions of experts. These findings will be used to support parameterization of a modelling study assessing the risk of AI introduction and spread among commercial poultry farms in Australia.
Singh, M., Toribio, J-A., Scott, A. B., Groves, P., Barnes, B., Glass, K., Moloney, B., Black, A., & Hernandez-Jover, M. (2018). Assessing the probability of introduction and spread of avian influenza (AI) virus in commercial Australian poultry operations using an expert opinion elicitation. PLoS One, 13(3), 1-19. [e0193730]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193730