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A Review of Simulation Modelling Approaches Used for the Spread of Zoonotic Influenza Viruses in Animal and Human Populations


S. Dorjee. Centre for Veterinary Epidemiological Research (CVER), Department of Health Management, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE, Canada C1A 4P3. Tel.: +1 902 566 0969; Fax: +32 9 264 7534; E-mail:


Increasing incidences of emerging and re-emerging diseases that are mostly zoonotic (e.g. severe acute respiratory syndrome, avian influenza H5N1, pandemic influenza) has led to the need for a multidisciplinary approach to tackling these threats to public and animal health. Accordingly, a global movement of ‘One-Health/One-Medicine’ has been launched to foster collaborative efforts amongst animal and human health officials and researchers to address these problems. Historical evidence points to the fact that pandemics caused by influenza A viruses remain a major zoonotic threat to mankind. Recently, a range of mathematical and computer simulation modelling methods and tools have increasingly been applied to improve our understanding of disease transmission dynamics, contingency planning and to support policy decisions on disease outbreak management. This review provides an overview of methods, approaches and software used for modelling the spread of zoonotic influenza viruses in animals and humans, particularly those related to the animal-human interface. Modelling parameters used in these studies are summarized to provide references for future work. This review highlights the limited application of modelling research to influenza in animals and at the animal-human interface, in marked contrast to the large volume of its research in human populations. Although swine are widely recognized as a potential host for generating novel influenza viruses, and that some of these viruses, including pandemic influenza A/H1N1 2009, have been shown to be readily transmissible between humans and swine, only one study was found related to the modelling of influenza spread at the swine-human interface. Significant gaps in the knowledge of frequency of novel viral strains evolution in pigs, farm-level natural history of influenza infection, incidences of influenza transmission between farms and between swine and humans are clearly evident. Therefore, there is a need to direct additional research to the study of influenza transmission dynamics in animals and at the animal-human interface.