Association Between Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Subtype H5N1 and Migratory Waterfowl (Family Anatidae) Populations


M. P. Ward. Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Private Mail Bag 3, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia.
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Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus subtype H5N1 threatens poultry production and human health. Understanding the role that migratory waterfowl play in introducing and maintaining this infection is critical to control the outbreaks. A study was conducted to determine if the occurrence of HPAI subtype H5N1 outbreaks in village poultry in Romania, 2005–2006, was associated with proximity to populations of migratory waterfowl. Reported outbreaks – which could be grouped into three epidemic phases – and migratory waterfowl sites were mapped. The migratory waterfowl site closest to each outbreak was identified. The distances between outbreaks occurring in phase 1 and 2 of the epidemic and the closest migratory waterfowl site were significantly (P < 0.001) less than in phase 3, but these distances were only useful in predicting when outbreaks occurred during phase 1 (October–December, 2005) of the epidemic. A spatial lag (ρ = 0.408, P = 0.041) model best fit the data, using distance and [distance]*[distance] as predictors (R2 = 0.425). The correlation between when outbreaks were predicted to occur and when they were observed to occur was 0.55 (P = 0.006). Results support the hypothesis that HPAI virus subtype H5N1 infections of village poultry in Romania during the autumn of 2005 might have occurred via exposure to migratory populations of waterfowl.