[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major reservoir of Nipah virus is believed to be the flying fox genus Pteropus, a fruit bat distributed across many of the world's tropical and sub-tropical areas. The emergence of the virus and its zoonotic transmission to livestock and humans have been linked to losses in the bat's habitat. Nipah has been identified in a number of indigenous flying fox populations in Thailand. While no evidence of infection in domestic pigs or people has been found to date, pig farming is an active agricultural sector in Thailand and therefore could be a potential pathway for zoonotic disease transmission from the bat reservoirs. The disease, then, represents a potential zoonotic risk. To characterize the spatial habitat of flying fox populations along Thailand's Central Plain, and to map potential contact zones between flying fox habitats, pig farms and human settlements, we conducted field observation, remote sensing, and ecological niche modeling to characterize flying fox colonies and their ecological neighborhoods. A Potential Surface Analysis was applied to map contact zones among local epizootic actors.
Flying fox colonies are found mainly on Thailand's Central Plain, particularly in locations surrounded by bodies of water, vegetation, and safe havens such as Buddhist temples. High-risk areas for Nipah zoonosis in pigs include the agricultural ring around the Bangkok metropolitan region where the density of pig farms is high.
Passive and active surveillance programs should be prioritized around Bangkok, particularly on farms with low biosecurity, close to water, and/or on which orchards are concomitantly grown. Integration of human and animal health surveillance should be pursued in these same areas. Such proactive planning would help conserve flying fox colonies and should help prevent zoonotic transmission of Nipah and other pathogens.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · BMC Veterinary Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The rapid transformation of the livestock sector in recent decades brought concerns on its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, disruptions to nitrogen and phosphorous cycles and on land use change, particularly deforestation for production of feed crops. Animal and human health are increasingly interlinked through emerging infectious diseases, zoonoses, and antimicrobial resistance. In many developing countries, the rapidity of change has also had social impacts with increased risk of marginalisation of smallholder farmers. However, both the impacts and benefits of livestock farming often differ between extensive (backyard farming mostly for home-consumption) and intensive, commercial production systems (larger herd or flock size, higher investments in inputs, a tendency towards market-orientation). A density of 10,000 chickens per km 2 has different environmental, epidemiological and societal implications if these birds are raised by 1,000 individual households or in a single industrial unit. Here, we introduce a novel relationship that links the national proportion of extensively raised animals to the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (in purchasing power parity). This relationship is modelled and used together with the global distribution of rural population to disaggregate existing 10 km resolution global maps of chicken and pig distributions into extensive and intensive systems. Our results highlight countries and regions where extensive and intensive chicken and pig production systems are most important. We discuss the sources of uncertainties, the modelling assumptions and ways in which this approach could be developed to forecast future trajectories of intensification.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) has become a worldwide endemic disease of pigs. In 2006, an atypical and more virulent PRRS (HP-PRRS) emerged in China and spread to many countries, including Thailand. This study aimed to provide a first description of the spatio-temporal pattern of PRRS in Thailand and to quantify the statistical relationship between the presence of PRRS at the sub-district level and a set of risk factors. This should provide a basis for improving disease surveillance and control of PRRS in Thailand.
Spatial scan statistics were used to detect clusters of outbreaks and allowed the identification of six spatial clusters covering 15 provinces of Thailand. Two modeling approaches were used to relate the presence or absence of PRRS outbreaks at the sub-district level to demographic characteristics of pig farming and other epidemiological spatial variables: autologistic multiple regressions and boosted regression trees (BRT). The variables showing a statistically significant association with PRRS presence in the autologistic multiple regression model were the sub-district human population and number of farms with breeding sows. The predictive power of the model, as measured by the area under the curve (AUC) of the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) plots was moderate. BRT models had higher goodness of fit the metrics and identified the sub-district human population and density of farms with breeding sows as important predictor variables.
The results indicated that farms with breeding sows may be an important group for targeted surveillance and control. However, these findings obtained at the sub-district level should be complemented by farm-level epidemiological investigations in order to obtain a more comprehensive view of the factors affecting PRRS presence. In this study, the outbreaks of PRRS could not be differentiated from the potential novel HP-PPRS form, which was recently discovered in the country.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · BMC Veterinary Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have occurred and have been studied in a variety of ecological systems. However, differences in the spatial resolution, geographical extent, units of analysis and risk factors examined in these studies prevent their quantitative comparison. This study aimed to develop a high-resolution, comparative study of a common set of agro-environmental determinants of avian influenza viruses (AIV) in domestic poultry in four different environments: (1) lower-Northern Thailand, where H5N1 circulated in 2004-2005, (2) the Red River Delta in Vietnam, where H5N1 is circulating widely, (3) the Vietnam highlands, where sporadic H5N1 outbreaks have occurred, and (4) the Lake Alaotra region in Madagascar, which features remarkable similarities with Asian agro-ecosystems and where low pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been found. We analyzed H5N1 outbreak data in Thailand in parallel with serological data collected on the H5 subtype in Vietnam and on low pathogenic AIV in Madagascar. Several agro-environmental covariates were examined: poultry densities, landscape dominated by rice cultivation, proximity to a water body or major road, and human population density. Relationships between covariates and AIV circulation were explored using spatial generalized linear models. We found that AIV prevalence was negatively associated with distance to the closest water body in the Red River Delta, Vietnam highlands and Madagascar. We also found a positive association between AIV and duck density in the Vietnam highlands and Thailand, and with rice landscapes in Thailand and Madagascar. Our findings confirm the important role of wetlands-rice-ducks ecosystems in the epidemiology of AI in diverse settings. Variables influencing circulation of the H5 subtype in Southeast Asia played a similar role for low pathogenic AIV in Madagascar, indicating that this area may be at risk if a highly virulent strain is introduced.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thailand experienced several epidemic waves of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 between 2004 and 2005. This study investigated the role of water in the landscape, which has not been previously assessed because of a lack of high-resolution information on the distribution of flooded land at the time of the epidemic. Nine Landsat 7 - Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus scenes covering 174,610 km2 were processed using k-means unsupervised classification to map the distribution of flooded areas as well as permanent lakes and reservoirs at the time of the main epidemic HPAI H5N1 wave of October 2004. These variables, together with other factors previously identified as significantly associated with risk, were entered into an autologistic regression model in order to quantify the gain in risk explanation over previously published models. We found that, in addition to other factors previously identified as associated with risk, the proportion of land covered by flooding along with expansion of rivers and streams, derived from an existing, sub-district level (administrative level no. 3) geographical information system database, was a highly significant risk factor in this 2004 HPAI epidemic. These results suggest that water-borne transmission could have partly contributed to the spread of HPAI H5N1 during the epidemic. Future work stemming from these results should involve studies where the actual distribution of small canals, rivers, ponds, rice paddy fields and farms are mapped and tested against farm-level data with respect to HPAI H5N1.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Geospatial health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In developing countries, smallholder poultry production contributes to food security and poverty alleviation in rural areas. However, traditional poultry marketing chains have been threatened by the epidemics caused by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1) virus. The article presents a value chain analysis conducted on the traditional poultry marketing chain in the rural province of Phitsanulok, Thailand. The analysis is based on quantitative data collected on 470 backyard chicken farms, and on qualitative data collected on 28 poultry collectors, slaughterhouses and market retailers, using semi-structured interviews. The article examines the organization of poultry marketing chains in time and space, and shows how this may contribute to the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 in the small-scale poultry sector. The article also discusses the practices and strategies developed by value chain actors facing poultry mortality, with their economic and social determinants. More broadly, this study also illustrates how value chain analysis can contribute to a better understanding of the complex mechanisms associated with the spread of epidemics in rural communities.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 1996 when Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza type H5N1 first emerged in southern China, numerous studies sought risk factors and produced risk maps based on environmental and anthropogenic predictors. However little attention has been paid to the link between the level of intensification of poultry production and the risk of outbreak. This study revised H5N1 risk mapping in Central and Western Thailand during the second wave of the 2004 epidemic. Production structure was quantified using a disaggregation methodology based on the number of poultry per holding. Population densities of extensively- and intensively-raised ducks and chickens were derived both at the sub-district and at the village levels. LandSat images were used to derive another previously neglected potential predictor of HPAI H5N1 risk: the proportion of water in the landscape resulting from floods. We used Monte Carlo simulation of Boosted Regression Trees models of predictor variables to characterize the risk of HPAI H5N1. Maps of mean risk and uncertainty were derived both at the sub-district and the village levels. The overall accuracy of Boosted Regression Trees models was comparable to that of logistic regression approaches. The proportion of area flooded made the highest contribution to predicting the risk of outbreak, followed by the densities of intensively-raised ducks, extensively-raised ducks and human population. Our results showed that as little as 15% of flooded land in villages is sufficient to reach the maximum level of risk associated with this variable. The spatial pattern of predicted risk is similar to previous work: areas at risk are mainly located along the flood plain of the Chao Phraya river and to the south-east of Bangkok. Using high-resolution village-level poultry census data, rather than sub-district data, the spatial accuracy of predictions was enhanced to highlight local variations in risk. Such maps provide useful information to guide intervention.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intensification of animal production can be an important factor in the emergence of infectious diseases because changes in production structure influence disease transmission patterns. In 2004 and 2005, Thailand was subject to two highly pathogenic avian influenza epidemic waves and large surveys were conducted of the poultry sector, providing detailed spatial data on various poultry types. This study analysed these data with the aim of establishing the distributions of extensive and intensive poultry farms, based on the number of birds per holder. Once poultry data were disaggregated into these two production systems, they were analysed in relation to anthropogenic factors using simultaneous autoregressive models. Intensive chicken production was clustered around the capital city of Bangkok and close to the main consumption and export centres. Intensively-raised ducks, mainly free-grazing, showed a distinct pattern with the highest densities distributed in a large area located in the floodplain of the Chao Phraya River. Accessibility to Bangkok, the percentage of irrigated areas and human population density were the most important predictors explaining the geographical distribution of intensively-raised poultry. The distribution of extensive poultry showed a higher predictability. Extensive poultry farms were distributed more homogeneously across the country and their distribution was best predicted by human population density.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 2003, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus has spread, causing a pandemic with serious economic consequences and public health implications. Quantitative estimates of the spread of HPAI H5N1 are needed to adapt control measures. This study aimed to estimate the variations of the reproduction number R in space and time for the HPAI H5N1 epidemic in Thailand. Transmission between sub-districts was analyzed using three different and complementary methods. Transmission of HPAI H5N1 was intense (R(t)>1) before October 2004, at which point the epidemic started to progressively fade out (R(t)<1). The spread was mainly local, with 75% of the putative distances of transmission less than 32km. The map of the mean standardized ratio of transmitting the infection (sr) showed sub-districts with a high risk of transmitting infection. Findings from this study can contribute to discussions regarding the efficacy of control measures and help target surveillance programs.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Preventive Veterinary Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For infectious diseases such as highly pathogenic avian influenza caused by the H5N1 virus (A/H5N1 HP), early warning system is essential. Evaluating the sensitivity of surveillance is a necessary step in ensuring an efficient and sustainable system. Stochastic scenario tree modeling was used here to assess the sensitivity of the A/H5N1 HP surveillance system in backyard and free-grazing duck farms in Thailand. The whole surveillance system for disease detection was modeled with all components and the sensitivity of each component and of the overall system was estimated. Scenarios were tested according to selection of high-risk areas, inclusion of components and sampling procedure, were tested. Nationwide passive surveillance (SSC1) and risk-based clinical X-ray (SSC2) showed a similar sensitivity level, with a median sensitivity ratio of 0.96 (95% CI 0.40-15.00). They both provide higher sensitivity than the X-ray laboratory component (SSC3). With the current surveillance design, the sensitivity of detection of the overall surveillance system when the three components are implemented, was equal to 100% for a farm level prevalence of 0.05% and 82% (95% CI 71-89%) for a level of infection of 3 farms. Findings from this study illustrate the usefulness of scenario-tree modeling to document freedom from diseases in developing countries.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Preventive Veterinary Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Beginning in 2003, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus spread across Southeast Asia, causing unprecedented epidemics. Thailand was massively infected in 2004 and 2005 and continues today to experience sporadic outbreaks. While research findings suggest that the spread of HPAI H5N1 is influenced primarily by trade patterns, identifying the anthropogenic risk factors involved remains a challenge. In this study, we investigated which anthropogenic factors played a role in the risk of HPAI in Thailand using outbreak data from the "second wave" of the epidemic (3 July 2004 to 5 May 2005) in the country. We first performed a spatial analysis of the relative risk of HPAI H5N1 at the subdistrict level based on a hierarchical Bayesian model. We observed a strong spatial heterogeneity of the relative risk. We then tested a set of potential risk factors in a multivariable linear model. The results confirmed the role of free-grazing ducks and rice-cropping intensity but showed a weak association with fighting cock density. The results also revealed a set of anthropogenic factors significantly linked with the risk of HPAI. High risk was associated strongly with densely populated areas, short distances to a highway junction, and short distances to large cities. These findings highlight a new explanatory pattern for the risk of HPAI and indicate that, in addition to agro-environmental factors, anthropogenic factors play an important role in the spread of H5N1. To limit the spread of future outbreaks, efforts to control the movement of poultry products must be sustained.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Veterinary Research