News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Featured publication: Risk maps for bird flu in Africa

More than 85 percent of households in rural Africa raise poultry for food, income, or both, and many people live in close contact with their birds. The possibility of an epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 is therefore a major concern. Since 2006 bird flu has been introduced into at least 11 countries in Africa, and over 600 outbreaks reported.

Vigilance is key to limiting the disease but animal health personnel cannot monitor everywhere at once. This risk-mapping project was designed to help prioritize their efforts by showing in which places outbreaks are more likely to occur.

A risk map is a complex, computer-generated image that shows the spatial distribution of the predicted risk of a disease. It is based on the spatial distribution of 'risk factors' associated with an increased risk of disease, and the relative importance of each of these factors. In the case of virulent bird flu, risk factors include major transport routes, markets where poultry may be traded, and wetlands with the possibility of contact between poultry and wild birds.

Researchers in this project, Early Detection, Reporting and Surveillance for Avian Influenza in Africa, have prepared risk maps for bird flu in Africa using multi-criteria decision modelling. In this way they have integrated data and information from such diverse sources as published scientific literature, maps available in the public domain, field surveys and expert consultations. An initial set of risk maps was prepared in 2009. These maps were then refined to produce the final maps contained in the current report.

Project partners include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the African Union - InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), regional animal health centres, and other national animal health services and veterinary authorities throughout Africa and abroad.

Download the report

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