Since its emergence, H5N1 HPAI has attracted considerable public and media attention because the viruses involved have been shown to be capable of producing fatal disease in humans. While there is fear that the virus may mutate into a strain capable of sustained human-to-human transmission, the greatest impact to date has been on the highly diverse poultry industries in affected countries. In response to this, HPAI control measures have so far focused on implementing prevention and eradication measures in poultry populations, with more than 175 million birds culled in Southeast Asia alone.
This document aims to describe the process and results from a qualitative risk assessment conducted for Thailand in relation to the introduction and transmission of HPAI virus subtype H5N1 into the buffer zone surrounding compartmentalised poultry farms. As well as the risk assessment, the paper considers effects of the disease on livelihoods and economics.
The risk assessment demonstrates how decision making in relation to disease control can be underpinned effectively by transparent presentation of data and qualitative risk estimates. Apart from defining risk pathways and estimating risks, this risk assessment compiled and documented the existing published literature and the local, unpublished epidemiological knowledge in relation to the defined pathways. It also showed how peer-reviewed information can be combined with expert opinion, while still being transparent about areas where scientific evidence is lacking.
Mekong Team Working Paper No. 7, 51 pp.