Ducks and rice play key role in avian influenza outbreaks

Ducks and rice play key role in avian influenza outbreaks

26/03/2008

New scientific findings published - Ducks, people and rice paddies, rather than chickens, are the major factors behind outbreaks of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza in Thailand and Viet Nam, and are probably behind outbreak persistence in other countries of the region such as Cambodia and Lao PDR.

In "Mapping H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza risk in Southeast Asia: ducks, rice and people", just published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), a group of experts from FAO and associated research centres looked at the series of waves of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Thailand and Viet Nam between early 2004 and late 2005.

Initiated and coordinated by FAO senior veterinary officer Jan Slingenbergh, the researchers applied a modelling technique to establish how different factors contributed to spread of the virus, including the numbers of ducks, geese and chickens, human population size, rice cultivation and local geography. The numbers of ducks and people, and the extent of rice cultivation emerged as the most significant factors, even though the two countries had fought outbreaks in two different ways.