Contact structures in the poultry industry in Great Britain: Exploring transmission routes for a potential avian influenza virus epidemic

Dent, Jennifer E, Kao, Rowland R, Kiss, Istvan Z, Hyder, Kieran and Arnold, Mark (2008) Contact structures in the poultry industry in Great Britain: Exploring transmission routes for a potential avian influenza virus epidemic. BMC Veterinary Research, 4 (27). pp. 1-14. ISSN 1746-6148

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Abstract

Background: The commercial poultry industry in United Kingdom (UK) is worth an estimated £3.4 billion at retail value, producing over 174 million birds for consumption per year. An epidemic of any poultry disease with high mortality or which is zoonotic, such as avian influenza virus (AIV), would result in the culling of significant numbers of birds, as seen in the Netherlands in 2003 and Italy in 2000. Such an epidemic would cost the UK government millions of pounds in compensation costs, with further economic losses through reduction of international and UK consumption of British poultry. In order to better inform policy advisers and makers on the potential for a large epidemic in GB, we investigate the role that interactions amongst premises within the British commercial poultry industry could play in promoting an AIV epidemic, given an introduction of the virus in a specific part of poultry industry in Great Britain (GB). Results: Poultry premises using multiple slaughterhouses lead to a large number of premises being potentially connected, with the resultant potential for large and sometimes widespread epidemics. Catching companies can also potentially link a large proportion of the poultry population. Critical to this is the maximum distance traveled by catching companies between premises and whether or not between-species transmission could occur within individual premises. Premises closely linked by proximity may result in connections being formed between different species and or sectors within the industry. Conclusion: Even quite well-contained epidemics have the potential for geographically widespread dissemination, potentially resulting in severe logistical problems for epidemic control, and with economic impact on a large part of the country. Premises sending birds to multiple slaughterhouses or housing multiple species may act as a bridge between otherwise separate sectors of the industry, resulting in the potential for large epidemics. Investment into further data collection and analyses on the importance of industry structure as a determinant for spread of AIV would enable us to use the results from this study to contribute to policy on disease control.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Mathematics
Depositing User: Istvan Kiss
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:07
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2012 17:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24222
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