Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Associations between attributes of live poultry trade and HPAI H5N1 outbreaks: a descriptive and network analysis study in northern Vietnam

Ricardo J Soares Magalhães12*, Angel Ortiz-Pelaez1, Kim Lan Lai Thi3, Quoc Hoang Dinh3, Joachim Otte4 and Dirk U Pfeiffer1

Author Affiliations

1 Royal Veterinary College, Veterinary Epidemiology & Public Health Group, Dpt. Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Herts, AL9 7TA, UK

2 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Public Health Building, Herston Road, Herston QLD 4006, Australia

3 Department of Animal Health, 15/78 Giai Phong Street, Phuong Mai Ward, Dong Da District, Ha Noi, Vietnam

4 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Pro-Poor Livestock Initiative, Vialle delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy

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BMC Veterinary Research 2010, 6:10  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-10

Published: 22 February 2010



The structure of contact between individuals plays an important role in the incursion and spread of contagious diseases in both human and animal populations. In the case of avian influenza, the movement of live birds is a well known risk factor for the geographic dissemination of the virus among poultry flocks. Live bird markets (LBM's) contribute to the epidemiology of avian influenza due to their demographic characteristics and the presence of HPAI H5N1 virus lineages. The relationship between poultry producers and live poultry traders (LPT's) that operate in LBM's has not been adequately documented in HPAI H5N1-affected SE Asian countries. The aims of this study were to document and study the flow of live poultry in a poultry trade network in northern Vietnam, and explore its potential role in the risk for HPAI H5N1 during 2003 to 2006.


Our results indicate that LPT's trading for less than a year and operating at retail markets are more likely to source poultry from flocks located in communes with a past history of HPAI H5N1 outbreaks during 2003 to 2006 than LPT's trading longer than a year and operating at wholesale markets. The results of the network analysis indicate that LPT's tend to link communes of similar infection status.


Our study provides evidence which can be used for informing policies aimed at encouraging more biosecure practices of LPT's operating at authorised LBM's. The results suggest that LPT's play a role in HPAI H5N1 transmission and may contribute to perpetuating HPAI H5N1 virus circulation amongst certain groups of communes. The impact of current disease prevention and control interventions could be enhanced by disseminating information about outbreak risk and the implementation of a formal data recording scheme at LBM's for all incoming and outgoing LPT's.