Characterisation of poultry movement and contact patterns associated with transmission of newly-introduced subtypes of avian influenza virus in Bangladesh

A newly introduced subtype of avian influenza virus (AIV) could spread rapidly through poultry in Bangladesh and cause major production losses plus loss of human lives, depending on the characteristics of the virus. There is therefore  a need to develop policies for early detection and containment to minimise spread of avian influenza virus between poultry units and also from poultry to people.


Having better information on pathways for transmission of such a virus associated with direct and indirect contacts between poultry rearing units through movement of live birds, poultry products, equipment, or people and information on farm biosecurity practices will help inform the development of such policy in Bangladesh.


A collaborative investigation project on this subject is being conducted in by a group of doctors and veterinarians from Bangladesh undertaking in a 2-year One Health Epidemiology Fellowship as part of the ‘Integrating Education and Action for One Health’ program funded by the European Union and implemented by Massey University.


The project will use social network analysis to characterise poultry movement and contact patterns, focusing on two areas: one with a high proportion of commercial poultry farms and another with a high proportion of backyard poultry relative to commercial farms.


The information generated through this project will be used to refine the disease spread parameters in a spatially referenced simulation model of avian influenza which will be used to evaluate surveillance and control policies for incursions of a new subtype of avian influenza virus.


Additional information will be collected on biosecurity practices implemented by farmers and on factors that may increase their risk of becoming infected with avian influenza.


The Fellowship participants are from the human health, animal health, and wildlife sectors and are studying together in a Master’s degree program in One Health epidemiology and biosecurity. Through studies such as these they are applying their knowledge and collaborating to reduce the risks of endemic and emerging epidemic diseases transmitted from animals and wildlife to people in their country.


The ‘Integrating Education and Action for One Health’ program uses a One Health approach to strengthen capability and promote collaborative relationships between the human, animal and wildlife health sectors in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. This is key to managing endemic and emerging epidemic and pandemic disease threats.


The ‘Integrating Education and Action for One Health’ program is funded by the European Union and implemented by Massey University. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Massey University.