Work in WIDER has focused on the spread and control of Avian Influenza in the poultry industry and the potential spill-over into the human population. To fully understand the risks posed by Avain Influenza (ie H5N1, H7N9 or a novel strain) requires robust, well-parameterised mathematical models that can account for: the transmission of infection within and between wild birds and domesticated speices; the chance transmission to the human population; the risks of evolution and how these are influenced by farming practices.
We have worked with Defra to estimate the potential spread of Avian Influenza in the UK poultry industry. This has led to significant statistical development, generating MCMC tools that can assess the impact of network connections between farms in addition to transmission due to spatial proximity.
More recently research has focussed on Avian Influenza in South East Asia, concentrating on the development of mathematical models that can capture the spread of H5N1 as observed in Bangladesh and Thailand. Critical questions surround the role of free-grazing ducks in maintaining infection and the types of control measures that are the most effective. The figure on the left shows a comparison between outbreak data from Thailand (left column) and preliminary model simulations (righ column).
Extensions to this research in collaboration with Xiangming Xiao has now been funded by NIH to focus the analysis to China, supported by a range of field data to be collected during the project.