Mapping H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza risk in Southeast Asia

Gilbert, M and Xiao, X M and Pfeiffer, D U and Epprecht, M and Boles, S and Czarnecki, C and Chaitaweesub, P and Kalpravidh, W and Minh, P Q and Otte, M J and Martin, V and Slingenbergh, J (2008) Mapping H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza risk in Southeast Asia. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 105 (12). pp. 4769-4774.

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Abstract

The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus that emerged in southern China in the mid-1990s has in recent years evolved into the first HPAI panzootic. In many countries where the virus was detected, the virus was successfully controlled, whereas other countries face periodic reoccurrence despite significant control efforts. A central question is to understand the factors favoring the continuing reoccurrence of the virus. The abundance of domestic ducks, in particular free-grazing ducks feeding in intensive rice cropping areas, has been identified as one such risk factor based on separate studies carried out in Thailand and Vietnam. In addition, recent extensive progress was made in the spatial prediction of rice cropping intensity obtained through satellite imagery processing. This article analyses the statistical association between the recorded HPAI H5N1 virus presence and a set of five key environmental variables comprising elevation, human population, chicken numbers, duck numbers, and rice cropping intensity for three synchronous epidemic waves in Thailand and Vietnam. A consistent pattern emerges suggesting risk to be associated with duck abundance, human population, and rice cropping intensity in contrast to a relatively low association, with chicken numbers. A statistical risk model based on the second epidemic wave data in Thailand is found to maintain its predictive power when extrapolated to Vietnam, which supports its application to other countries with similar agro-ecological conditions such as Laos or Cambodia. The model's potential application to mapping HPAI H5N1 disease risk in Indonesia is discussed.