May 3, 2013 — A map of avian influenza (H7N9) risk is presented in Biomed Central's open access journal Infectious Diseases of Poverty today. The map is composed of bird migration patterns, and adding in estimations of poultry production and consumption, which are used to infer future risk and to advise on ways to prevent infection.
As of today, there have been 127 confirmed cases of H7N9 in mainland China with 27 deaths. A lack of information about the virus and its mode of transmission has led to public concerns that H7N9 could be a pandemic waiting to happen.
To quantify the risk of this happening scientists from the Hong Kong Baptist University and Chinese University of Hong Kong have generated a map of H7N9 risk in eastern China. The map is based on the northwards migratory patterns of birds (from the 4th February to the end of April) using environmental and meteorological data over the same 12 weeks -- from Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Jiangsu, to Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.
The distribution of potentially infected poultry was also included in the model. The majority of early cases of H7N9 were found in Shanghai, but Shanghai is not a big poultry exporter so the model shows limited transmission via this route. In contrast, Jiangsu distributes poultry to Shanghai, Zhejiang, and beyond.