[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highly pathogenic influenza A virus subtype H5N1 causes significant poultry mortality in the six countries where it is endemic and can also infect humans. Egypt has reported the third highest number of poultry outbreaks (n=1084) globally. The objective of this cross-sectional study was to identify putative risk factors for H5N1 infections in backyard poultry in 16 villages in Damietta, El Gharbia, Fayoum, and Menofia governorates from 2010-2012. Cloacal and tracheal swabs and serum samples from domestic (n=1242) and wild birds (n=807) were tested for H5N1 via RT-PCR and hemagglutination inhibition, respectively. We measured poultry rearing practices with questionnaires (n=306 households) and contact rates among domestic and wild bird species with scan sampling. Domestic birds (chickens, ducks, and geese, n=51) in three governorates tested positive for H5N1 by PCR or serology. A regression model identified a significant correlation between H5N1 in poultry and the practice of disposing of dead poultry and poultry feces in the garbage (F=15.7, p<0.0001). In addition, contact between domestic and wild birds was more frequent in villages where we detected H5N1 in backyard flocks (F=29.5, p<0.0001).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) is one of the most emblematic mammals of Mesoamerica, but like other large-bodied animals, it is facing an increasing risk of extinction due primarily to habitat loss. Mexico's 'ortion of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC-M) is located in one of the main strongholds for Bairds tapir. To assess the MBC-M's effectiveness for tapir conservation, we estimated the distribution of the species' potential habitat by applying 2 modelling approaches (random forest and Maxent) to a set of uncorrelated environmental variables and a 157-point presence dataset. We calculated the extent of tapir habitat in within the MBC-M and modelled new corridors and conservation areas, which we compared to the MBC-M. Moreover, we assessed deforestation patterns in the region. Twenty-seven percent of highly suitable tapir habitat occurred in protected areas, 15% in corridors and 58.3% was outside the MBC-M and associated reserves. The spatial configuration of the MBC-M was partially concordant with the modelled set of conservation areas and corridors. The main dissimilarity was that the modelled corridors traversed forests in Belize and Guatemala to connect conservation areas. Analyses of deforestation since 1993 and human population density in the vicinity of the MBC-M indicated that future conservation efforts should give particular attention to the Montes Azules-El Triunfo Corridor due to greater habitat threat. The MBC-M has a great potential to play a prominent role in the conservation of tapir habitat but there is an urgent need to implement management plans that reinforce and complement this conservation initiative.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highly pathogenic influenza A/H5N1 has persistently but sporadically caused human illness and death since 1997. Yet it is still unclear how this pathogen is able to persist globally. While wild birds seem to be a genetic reservoir for influenza A, they do not seem to be the main source of human illness. Here, we highlight the role that domestic poultry may play in maintaining A/H5N1 globally, using theoretical models of spatial population structure in poultry populations. We find that a metapopulation of moderately sized poultry flocks can sustain the pathogen in a finite poultry population for over two years. Our results suggest that it is possible that moderately intensive backyard farms could sustain the pathogen indefinitely in real systems. This fits a pattern that has been observed from many empirical systems. Rather than just employing standard culling procedures to control the disease, our model suggests ways that poultry production systems may be modified.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(12):e80091. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although swine origin A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus (hereafter "pH1N1″) has been detected in swine in 20 countries, there has been no published surveillance of the virus in African livestock. The objective of this study was to assess the circulation of influenza A viruses, including pH1N1 in swine in Cameroon, Central Africa. We collected 108 nasal swabs and 98 sera samples from domestic pigs randomly sampled at 11 herds in villages and farms in Cameroon. pH1N1 was isolated from two swine sampled in northern Cameroon in January 2010. Sera from 28% of these herds were positive for influenza A by competitive ELISA and 92.6% of these swine showed cross reactivity with pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus isolated from humans. These results provide the first evidence of this virus in the animal population in Africa. In light of the significant role of swine in the ecology of influenza viruses, our results call for greater monitoring and study in Central Africa.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Avian influenza virus (AIV) is an important public health issue because pandemic influenza viruses in people have contained genes from viruses that infect birds. The H5 and H7 AIV subtypes have periodically mutated from low pathogenicity to high pathogenicity form. Analysis of the geographic distribution of AIV can identify areas where reassortment events might occur and how high pathogenicity influenza might travel if it enters wild bird populations in the US. Modelling the number of AIV cases is important because the rate of co-infection with multiple AIV subtypes increases with the number of cases and co-infection is the source of reassortment events that give rise to new strains of influenza, which occurred before the 1968 pandemic. Aquatic birds in the orders Anseriformes and Charadriiformes have been recognized as reservoirs of AIV since the 1970s. However, little is known about influenza prevalence in terrestrial birds in the order Passeriformes. Since passerines share the same habitat as poultry, they may be more effective transmitters of the disease to humans than aquatic birds. We analyze 152 passerine species including the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) and Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus).
We formulate a regression model to predict AIV cases throughout the US at the county scale as a function of 12 environmental variables, sampling effort, and proximity to other counties with influenza outbreaks. Our analysis did not distinguish between types of influenza, including low or highly pathogenic forms.
Analysis of 13,046 cloacal samples collected from 225 bird species in 41 US states between 2005 and 2008 indicates that the average prevalence of influenza in passerines is greater than the prevalence in eight other avian orders. Our regression model identifies the Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest as high-risk areas for AIV. Highly significant predictors of AIV include the amount of harvested cropland and the first day of the year when a county is snow free.
Although the prevalence of influenza in waterfowl has long been appreciated, we show that 22 species of song birds and perching birds (order Passeriformes) are influenza reservoirs in the contiguous US.