Modeling the dynamics of backyard chicken flows in traditional trade networks in Thailand: implications for surveillance and control of avian influenza


In Southeast Asia, traditional poultry marketing chains have been threatened by epidemics caused by the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 (HPAI H5N1) virus. In Thailand, the trade of live backyard chickens is based on the activities of traders buying chickens from villages and supplying urban markets with chicken meat. This study aims to quantify the flows of chickens traded during a 1-year period in a province of Thailand. A compartmental stochastic dynamic model was constructed to illustrate trade flows of live chickens from villages to slaughterhouses. Live poultry movements present important temporal variations with increased activities during the 15 days preceding the Chinese New Year and, to a lesser extent, other festivals (Qingming Festival, Thai New Year, Hungry Ghost Festival, and International New Year). The average distance of poultry movements ranges from 4 to 25 km, defining a spatial scale for the risk of avian influenza that spread through traditional poultry marketing chains. Some characteristics of traditional poultry networks in Thailand, such as overlapping chicken supply zones, may facilitate disease diffusion over longer distances through combined expansion and relocation processes. This information may be of use in tailoring avian influenza and other emerging infectious poultry disease surveillance and control programs provided that the cost-effectiveness of such scenarios is also evaluated in further studies.

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The authors are grateful to the Franco-Thai PHC Program in Higher Education and Research for their financial support in the field survey. We gratefully thank Ms. Thitiya Seekhsamban, Ms. Poonyapat Sedwisai, and Ms. Tatiyanuch Chamsai for their contributions in the field study. We acknowledge the Department of Livestock Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand for providing the backyard chicken census data, and we thank all live backyard chicken traders for their participation in this work. We are grateful to Dr. Ann Dernburg for the manuscript reviews. We thank the three reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions.

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The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Anuwat Wiratsudakul.

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Mathematical equations used for constructing the dynamic model of traditional live backyard chicken trade in Phitsanulok province, Thailand (PDF 265 kb)

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Wiratsudakul, A., Paul, M.C., Bicout, D.J. et al. Modeling the dynamics of backyard chicken flows in traditional trade networks in Thailand: implications for surveillance and control of avian influenza. Trop Anim Health Prod 46, 845–853 (2014).

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  • Avian influenza
  • Backyard chickens
  • Epidemiology
  • Live poultry traders
  • Stochastic model