Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Epidemiological characterization and network analysis of Colorado's backyard bird population, 2008-2009
by Smith, Emily, M.S., Colorado State University, 2011, 163; 1492433
Abstract (Summary)

Backyard bird flocks are a minimally characterized population that could be influential in the spread of HPAI among bird populations, humans, and other animals. The general objectives of this study were to collect basic information on Colorado's backyard bird populations to provide an epidemiological characterization of the backyard flocks in Colorado from March 2008 to March 2009, specifically focusing on an association between poor health among the birds and the movement of birds by humans; and also to perform a network analysis evaluating potential relationships between backyard flocks and poultry exhibitions, and bird markets.

A total of 317 surveys were returned out of 807 eligible surveys, providing a participation rate of 39.28%. In 2008, the backyard bird population surveyed consisted primarily of layer chickens (37.43%), waterfowl (14.92%), and show chickens (14.09%). We found that 68.6% of the flocks were smaller than 50 birds and were mostly kept as a source of food for the family (86.44%). A large number of flocks were also used for participation in 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FFA) or just kept as pets. The most commonly reported health problems included unexplained death (12.93%), external parasites (23.97%), respiratory problems (12.93%), and diarrhea (12.3%). Almost half of the participants reported moving their birds off of their home premises at least once during the year. Most of these birds were taken to fairs or bird shows (31.43%). We found that the flocks with birds that were moved frequently were more likely to develop respiratory problems than those that did not move their birds (1 time, (0.7, 5.11); 2–3 times, (1.37, 9.16); >4 times, (3.33, 19.94)).

With network analysis, we established the presence of a highly connected network among backyard bird flocks and poultry events. The event and flock networks were heterogeneous, small world, and scale-free networks with a few central events or flocks that were highly connected to a number of the other flocks/events.

The information gathered provides basic descriptive information useful for the development of future studies of this population or for integration into HPAI surveillance or HPAI control programs by providing essential population data for backyard bird populations. The information provided by the network analysis can be used to predict the potential spread of disease in this population and for targeted disease control.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Reif, John, Pabilonia, Kristy
Commitee: Hill, Ashley, Pabilonia, Kristy
School: Colorado State University
Department: Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: MAI 49/05M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Ecology
Keywords: Avian influenza, Backyard birds, Colorado
Publication Number: 1492433
ISBN: 978-1-124-64484-4
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