Emergence of avian influenza viruses with high lethality to humans, such as the currently circulating highly pathogenic A(H5N1) (emerged in 1996) and A(H7N9) cause serious concern for the global economic and public health sectors. Understanding the spatial and temporal interface between wild and domestic populations, from which these viruses emerge, is fundamental to taking action. This information, however, is rarely considered in influenza risk models, partly due to a lack of data. We aim to identify areas of high transmission risk between domestic poultry and wild waterfowl in China, the epicenter of both viruses. Two levels of models were developed: one that predicts hotspots of novel virus emergence between domestic and wild birds, and one that incorporates H5N1 risk factors, for which input data exists. Models were produced at 1 and 30 km spatial resolution, and two temporal seasons. Patterns of risk varied between seasons with higher risk in the northeast, central-east, and western regions of China during spring and summer, and in the central and southeastern regions during winter. Monte-Carlo uncertainty analyses indicated varying levels of model confidence, with lowest errors in the densely populated regions of eastern and southern China. Applications and limitations of the models are discussed within.
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Mapping risk of avian influenza transmission at the interface of domestic poultry and wild birds