Simulation of an early warning system using sentinel birds to detect a change of a low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) to high pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV).
The placement of sentinel birds in a commercial poultry flock infected with low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) may be an effective way of detecting subsequent change in the isolate to a high pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV). Data collected from the 2002 Chilean HPAIV outbreak, along with information from a literature review of laboratory studies involving A/chicken/Chile/176822/02 (H7N3/LP) and A/chicken/Chile/184240-1/02 (H7N3/HP) viruses, were used to construct a computer simulation model. Mortality rates of the original LPAIV-infected population and the sentinel population were compared to detect the presence of HPAIV. A total of 12 increased mortality threshold scenarios were examined, using one-day absolute (2, 3, or 4 birds) or relative (0.5, 1.0, or 1.5%) mortality thresholds, and two-day absolute (1, 2, or 3 birds) or relative (0.25, 0.50, or 1.00%) mortality thresholds, to indicate the change from LPAIV to HPAIV in the sentinel and original populations, respectively. Results showed that following a one-day approach, threshold mortalities occurred on average at 7.35, 7.82, and 8.17 (0.5, 1.0, or 1.5%) and 6.21, 6.38, and 6.45 (2, 3, or 4 birds) days after the first infectious case for the original and sentinel populations, respectively. The two-day approach delayed the occurrence of threshold mortalities, on average, to 7.64, 8.05, and 8.62 (0.25, 0.50, or 1.00%) and 6.86, 6.78, and 7.23 (1, 2, or 3 birds) days after the first infectious case for the original and sentinel populations, respectively. Although, significant (p<0.10) differences were observed among different combinations of detection times for the original and sentinel populations, the use of sentinel birds has a maximum mean advantage, over monitoring mortality exclusively in the original population, of 1.96 and 1.84 days for one- and two-day threshold moralities, respectively. Additionally, the early warning system based on a sentinel vs. original population presented a decrease of the probabilities of a false alarm, from 0.04-0.45 to <0.01-0.10%. These findings may be used by decision makers to evaluate the risk of not depopulating a flock infected with a H5 or H7 LPAIV strain and the benefit of using sentinel birds as an early warning system of a change to HPAIV.