Waterfowl occurrence and residence time as indicators of H5 and H7 avian influenza in North American Poultry.


Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA. [Email]


Avian influenza (AI) affects wild aquatic birds and poses hazards to human health, food security, and wildlife conservation globally. Accordingly, there is a recognized need for new methods and tools to help quantify the dynamic interaction between wild bird hosts and commercial poultry. Using satellite-marked waterfowl, we applied Bayesian joint hierarchical modeling to concurrently model species distributions, residency times, migration timing, and disease occurrence probability under an integrated animal movement and disease distribution modeling framework. Our results indicate that migratory waterfowl are positively related to AI occurrence over North America such that as waterfowl occurrence probability or residence time increase at a given location, so too does the chance of a commercial poultry AI outbreak. Analyses also suggest that AI occurrence probability is greatest during our observed waterfowl northward migration, and less during the southward migration. Methodologically, we found that when modeling disparate facets of disease systems at the wildlife-agriculture interface, it is essential that multiscale spatial patterns be addressed to avoid mistakenly inferring a disease process or disease-environment relationship from a pattern evaluated at the improper spatial scale. The study offers important insights into migratory waterfowl ecology and AI disease dynamics that aid in better preparing for future outbreaks.

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