Incentives driving the transmission of highly pathonogenic Avian Influenza Virus in Indonesian poultry chain

Projectleiders: Arjan Stegeman, Universiteit Utrecht en Retno Damayanti Soeyoedono, Bogor Agricultural University

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus (HPAIv) is widespread in Indonesian poultry and individual cases of infection in humans, generally fatal, are reported regularly. The virus’s biggest threat, however, is its ability to re-assort with other influenza viruses, creating the potential for an influenza pandemic in humans. Recent attempts to eliminate HPAIv from the Indonesian poultry population have been unsuccessful and the disease is moving farther eastwards. Although effective vaccines are available, the vaccination programmes have not eliminated HPAIv. Moreover, eradication by culling infected flocks, a successful strategy in Thailand, was not feasible in Indonesia. In addition, cooperation on controlling HPAI between the Indonesian veterinary authorities and poultry industry is suboptimal.

To improve the HPAI situation, it is crucial to develop control measures that fit the Indonesian context. That requires understanding the transmission routes of HPAIv within and between the various sectors of poultry husbandry and their importance, and the incentives in the poultry chain that drive contacts between the different parts of that chain. Once these are known, it becomes possible to examine how changes in incentives can affect contacts within the poultry chain and, consequently, the transmission of HPAIv.

Stacks of eggs on the move Photo: Arjan Stegeman

This project will begin with a detailed description of poultry husbandry in Indonesia, broken down into in broiler chickens, layer chickens, ducks and backyard poultry. Next, a field study will identify and quantify the existing contacts between farms within each of these chains, but also with farms belonging to other poultry chains. This information will be used to develop a mathematical model describing the contact structure of Indonesian poultry husbandry and virus transmission within this contact structure. To establish relevant transmission routes between various parts of the poultry chain, the project will involve a molecular epidemiological analysis of HPAIv isolates that have been collected in the past five years and during the field study. In addition, literature and expert knowledge will be used to parameterize the model. The mathematical model will be validated (in part) using prevalences of infection observed in other field studies.

On the basis of this model, the researchers will then perform a value (money and commodity) chain analysis of Indonesian poultry production that systematically summarizes the relationships, characteristics and dynamics among different actors. Next, they will create simulation models for the main actors that allow for evaluation of the economic effect of measures, including changes in the contacts between farms and improved bio-security. They will also be able to investigate the effect that changes in the value exchange in the poultry chain have on the contact structure. Finally, the project will consider which organizational forms in the Indonesian poultry supply chain and government intervention provide the most efficient means of coordination under conditions of food safety and security.