Research looks at bird flu controls
12 May 2010
In recent years, the world has become familiar with the term 'avian influenza' or 'bird flu'. Since December 2003, outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported in poultry populations in South-East Asia and beyond. Within Asia, outbreaks in poultry of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI H5N1 strain) have been reported in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia and Vietnam. These outbreaks have resulted in extensive loss of chickens and ducks due to deaths resulting directly from HPAI infection and to culling carried out to stop the disease spreading.
Investigation of human cases of the disease, which affects both birds and people, has found that the majority of infected people report direct contact with poultry. In light of the disturbing spread of the virus and its potential as the source of the next pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with governments across Asia to respond. Biosecurity preparedness activity at local, national and international levels has spearheaded strategic planning regarding HPAI for Indonesia. These plans include several strategies which target all sections of the poultry production industry.
In partnership with WHO Indonesia and the Universities of Udayana in Bali and Mataram in Lombok, Sydney academics from the School of Public Health, North Coast Medical Education (Lismore) and the Faculty of Veterinary Science are working together to investigate HPAI in Indonesia.
"The aim of the study is to evaluate the impact and extent of activities undertaken to date through the National Strategic Plan (NSP) to detect and control HPAI in small-scale poultry flocks in village communities in Bali and Lombok, Indonesia," says Professor Robert Booy, University of Sydney epidemiology team member. "Through current research being undertaken and personal communication with people directly involved, we understand that activities under the National Strategic Plan have not yet rolled out evenly across Indonesia. There is growing evidence that it is within the community-based small-scale poultry industry where the most risk lies for transmission of HPAI."
The study will use both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the biological, socio-cultural, political, economic and environmental phenomena that influence human responses to HPAI at household, village and community levels. The team plans to document HPAI education, control and surveillance activities implemented by human and animal health agencies in Bali and Lombok.
Even though this is an important public health issue, there is still much that we don't know about how prevention messages are received and acted upon by small-scale poultry raisers," says Hudson Birden of the North Coast Medical Education Collaboration, who brings over 30 yearsdespread epidemic with transmission to humans.
"The research team is from both Indonesia and Australia and calls on the expertise of animal health, human health, agriculture, epidemiology and medical anthropology researchers from both countries," says Dr Cynthia Hunter, the medical anthropologist on the team. "It is precisely this type of multi-disciplinary approach that will give us a well-rounded understanding of what is taking place on the ground and which will enable us to provide solutions that will work for the community."
The dissemination of research findings to all levels of the government agencies responsible for human health and animal health will permit the results to be used to inform future policy and action. "It is likely that some lessons about communication and collaboration with village communities regarding surveillance and prevention of diseases that seriously affect both animals and people will be relevant to government activities in Bali and Lombok for other such diseases," says Dr Jenny-Ann Toribio, the Sydney veterinary epidemiologist on the research team.
The research team consists of principal investigators Professor I. Nyoman Adiputra, Fakultas Kedokteran, Universitas Udayana; and Muktasam Abdurrahman, Director of Research, Center for Rural Development, Fakultas Pertanian, Universitas Mataram. Indonesian co-investigators are Dr I.G.A.A. Ambarawati, Senior Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Socio-Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, Fakultas Pertanian, Universitas Udayana; and Dr I. Komang Gerudug, Lecturer, School of Medicine, Universitas Mataram.
The Sydney team of co-investigators are Dr Cynthia Hunter, Medical Anthropologist and Senior Lecturer in International Public Health, Sydney School of Public Health; Dr Jenny-Ann Toribio, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, Faculty of Veterinary Science; Hudson Birden, Senior Lecturer, Public Health and Clinical Leadership, The North Coast Medical Education Collaboration; and Professor Robert Booy, Head, Clinical Research, National Centre for Immunisation Research.
Contact: Louise Freckleton
Phone: 02 9036 7578