Abstracts: Controlling highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks: an epidemiological and economic model analysis

Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) can cause large losses for the poultry sector and for animal disease controlling authorities, as well as risks for animal and human welfare. In the current simulation approach epidemiological and economic models are combined to compare different strategies to control highly pathogenic avian influenza in Dutch poultry flocks.

Evaluated control strategies are the minimum EU strategy (i.e., culling of infected flocks, transport regulations, tracing and screening of contact flocks, establishment of protection and surveillance zones), and additional control strategies comprising pre-emptive culling of all susceptible poultry flocks in an area around infected flocks (1km, 3km and 10km) and emergency vaccination of all flocks except broilers around infected flocks (3km). Simulation results indicate that the EU strategy is not sufficient to eradicate an epidemic in high density poultry areas.

From an epidemiological point of view, this strategy is the least effective, while pre-emptive culling in 10km radius is the most effective of the studied strategies. But these two strategies incur the highest costs due to long duration (EU strategy) and large-scale culling (pre-emptive culling in 10km radius). Other analysed pre-emptive culling strategies (i.e., in 1km and 3km radius) are more effective than the analysed emergency vaccination strategy (in 3km radius) in terms of duration and size of the epidemics, despite the assumed optimistic vaccination capacity of 20 farms per day.

However, the total costs of these strategies differ only marginally. Extending the capacity for culling substantially reduces the duration, size and costs of the epidemic. This study demonstrates the strength of combining epidemiological and economic model analysis to gain insight in a range of consequences and thus to serve as a decision support tool in the control of HPAI epidemics.

The study is from the Central Veterinary Institute, Wageningen UR, Lelystad, The Netherlands; Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands; Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; and the Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Wageningen UR, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Backer JA, van Roermund HJ, Fischer EA, et al. Prev Vet Med 2015 Jun 6 [Epub ahead of print].