Avian influenza outbreaks have been occurring on smallholder poultry farms in Asia for two decades. Farmer responses to these outbreaks can slow down or accelerate virus transmission. We used a longitudinal survey of 53 small-scale chicken farms in southern Vietnam to investigate the impact of outbreaks with disease-induced mortality on harvest rate, vaccination, and disinfection behaviors. We found that in small broiler flocks (≤16 birds/flock) the estimated probability of harvest was 56% higher when an outbreak occurred, and 214% higher if an outbreak with sudden deaths occurred in the same month. Vaccination and disinfection were strongly and positively correlated with the number of birds. Small-scale farmers – the overwhelming majority of poultry producers in low-income countries – tend to rely on rapid sale of birds to mitigate losses from diseases. As depopulated birds are sent to markets or trading networks, this reactive behavior has the potential to enhance onward transmission. One sentence summary: Longitudinal monitoring of poultry farms in southern Vietnam reveals that when outbreaks occur with symptoms similar to highly pathogenic avian influenza, farmers respond by sending their chickens to market early.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)