Low- and high-pathogenic avian influenza H5 and H7 spread risk assessment within and between Australian commercial chicken farms

Angela Bullanday Scott, Jenny Ann L.M.L. Toribio, Mini Singh, Peter Groves, Belinda Barnes, Kathryn Glass, Barbara Moloney, Amanda Black, Marta Hernandez-Jover

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This study quantified and compared the probability of avian influenza (AI) spread within and between Australian commercial chicken farms via specified spread pathways using scenario tree mathematical modeling. Input values for the models were sourced from scientific literature, expert opinion, and a farm survey conducted during 2015 and 2016 on Australian commercial chicken farms located in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. Outputs from the models indicate that the probability of no establishment of infection in a shed is the most likely end-point after exposure and infection of low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) in one chicken for all farm types (non-free range meat chicken, free range meat chicken, cage layer, barn layer, and free range layer farms). If LPAI infection is established in a shed, LPAI is more likely to spread to other sheds and beyond the index farm due to a relatively low probability of detection and reporting during LPAI infection compared to high-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infection. Among farm types, the median probability for HPAI spread between sheds and between farms is higher for layer farms (0.0019, 0.0016, and 0.0031 for cage, barn, and free range layer, respectively) than meat chicken farms (0.00025 and 0.00043 for barn and free range meat chicken, respectively) due to a higher probability of mutation in layer birds, which relates to their longer production cycle. The pathway of LPAI spread between sheds with the highest average median probability was spread via equipment (0.015; 5-95%, 0.0058-0.036) and for HPAI spread between farms, the pathway with the highest average median probability was spread via egg trays (3.70 × 10-5; 5-95%, 1.47 × 10-6-0.00034). As the spread model did not explicitly consider volume and frequency of the spread pathways, these results provide a comparison of spread probabilities per pathway. These findings highlight the importance of performing biosecurity practices to limit spread of the AI virus. The models can be updated as new information on the mechanisms of the AI virus and on the volume and frequency of movements shed-to-shed and of movements between commercial chicken farms becomes available.
Original languageEnglish
Article number63
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - 09 Apr 2018


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