Looking for avian influenza in remote areas. A case study in Northern Vietnam
Article in Press
Epidemiological surveys of avian influenza infections rarely focus on backyard poultry systems in remote locations because areas with low levels of poultry production are considered to have little influence on the emergence, re-emergence, persistence or spread of avian influenza viruses. In addition, routine disease investigations in remote areas often are neglected due to the lower availability and relatively high cost of veterinary services there. A bank of avian sera collected in 2005 from ethnic minority households in Ha Giang province (Northern Vietnam), located on the Chinese border, was analysed to estimate the seroprevalence of avian influenza virus (AIV) during a H5N1 epidemic and to identify potential risk factors for infection. The results suggest that the chicken population had been exposed to AIV with a seroprevalence rate of 7.2% [1.45; 10.5]. The H5 and H9 subtypes were identified with a seroprevalence of 3.25% [2.39; 4.11] and 1.12% [0.61; 1.63], respectively. The number of inhabitants in a village and the distance to the main national road were the most influential risk factors of AIV infection, and high-risk clusters were located along the road leading to China. These two results suggest a virus spread through commercial poultry exchanges and a possible introduction of AIV from southern China. Remote areas and small-scale farms may play an under-estimated role in the spread and persistence of AIV. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.