Dossier AI Transmission: Per-Contact Probability of Infection by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Estimates of the per-contact probability of transmission between farms of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus of H7N7 subtype during the 2003 epidemic in the Netherlands are important for the design of better control and biosecurity strategies.

We used standardized data collected during the epidemic and a model to extract data for untraced contacts based on the daily number of infectious farms within a given distance of a susceptible farm.
With these data, the ‘maximum likelihood estimation’ approach was used to estimate the transmission probabilities by the individual contact types, both traced and untraced.

The outcomes were validated against literature data on virus genetic sequences for outbreak farms. The findings highlight the need to

1) Understand the routes underlying the infections without traced contacts and
2) To review whether the contact-tracing protocol is exhaustive in relation to all the farm’s day-to-day activities and practices.

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Dossier AI Transmission: Supplementary information wind-mediated transmission HPAI

A comparison between the transmission risk pattern predicted by the model and the pattern observed during the 2003 epidemic reveals that the wind-borne route alone is insufficient to explain the observations although it could contribute substantially to the spread over short distance ranges, for example, explaining 24% of the transmission over distances up to 25 km.

In this generic overview, you will find the date used in the publication “Modelling the Wind-Borne Spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus between Farms”, published February 2012 (see also http://n2gf.com/?p=2377). For the outbreak of avian influenza A(H7N7) in the Netherlands in 2003, much data are available. The overview gives a description of the data used in the analyses of the mentioned publication:

Epidemiological data

There were 5360 poultry farms in the Netherlands in 2003, for all of which geographical information x is available. For 1531 farms the flocks were culled, for all of these the date of culling Tcull is known. For 227 of the 241 infected farms the date of infection tinf has been estimated, based on mortality data. The remaining 14 farms are hobby farms, defined as farms with less than 300 animals, for which no mortality data are available.

The geographic and temporal data together have previously been used to estimate the critical farm density, i.e. above what density of farms outbreaks are can occur.

Genetic data
The HA, NA and PB2 genes of viral samples from 231 farms have previously been sequenced. Sequence data RNA can be found in the GISAID database under accession numbers EPI ISL 68268-68352, EPI ISL 82373-82472 and EPI ISL 83984-84031. These data have previously been used to give general characteristics of the outbreak, to reconstruct the transmission tree and to assess the public health threat due to mutations of the virus in the animal host.

Meteorological data

Available meteorological data include wind speed wv and direction wdir (with a ten degree precision) and the fraction of time r without precipitation for every hour of every day of the outbreak, measured at five weather stations close to the infected farms. These data are available from the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute at www.knmi.nl.

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Dossier AI Transmission: Modelling the Wind-Borne Spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus between Farms

The mechanisms of HPAI virus spread between farms are poorly understood; it has been hypothesized that the indirect between-farm contacts play a role [9,14–17].

The frequency and the transmission effectiveness of these contacts determine their virus transmission rates. Here we perform a quantitative assessment of the contribution of indirect contacts to the spread of the virus between farms during the 2003 HPAI epidemic in the Netherlands.

During this epidemic, potentially infectious contacts to both infected and escaping farms were traced. In this paper, the collected data is used to quantify the per-contact probability of virus transmission between farms.

A quantitative understanding of the spread of contaminated farm dust between locations is a prerequisite for obtaining much-needed insight into one of the possible mechanisms of disease spread between farms.

A model was developed to calculate the quantity of contaminated farm-dust particles deposited at various locations downwind of a source farm and apply the model to assess the possible contribution of the wind-borne route to the transmission of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus (HPAI) during the 2003 epidemic in the Netherlands.

The model is obtained from a Gaussian Plume Model by incorporating the dust deposition process, pathogen decay, and a model for the infection process on exposed farms. Using poultry- and avian influenza-specific parameter values we calculate the distance-dependent probability of between-farm transmission by this route.

A comparison between the transmission risk pattern predicted by the model and the pattern observed during the 2003 epidemic reveals that the wind-borne route alone is insufficient to explain the observations although it could contribute substantially to the spread over short distance ranges, for example, explaining 24% of the transmission over distances up to 25 km.

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