Avian influenza viruses (AIVs) have been implicated in all human influenza pandemics in recent history. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the mechanisms underlying the maintenance and spread of these viruses in their natural bird reservoirs. Surveillance has identified an AIV ‘hotspot’ in shorebirds at Delaware Bay, in which prevalence is estimated to exceed other monitored sites by an order of magnitude. To better understand the factors that create an AIV hotspot, we developed and parametrized a mechanistic transmission model to study the simultaneous epizootiological impacts of multi-species transmission, seasonal breeding, host migration and mixed transmission routes. We scrutinized our model to examine the potential for an AIV hotspot to serve as a ‘gateway’ for the spread of novel viruses into North America. Our findings identify the conditions under which a novel influenza virus, if introduced into the system, could successfully invade and proliferate.
- Avian influenza viruses
- multi-host mathematical model
- environmental transmission
- disease hotspot