Revue : Science of the Total Environment

Modeling the spread of avian influenza viruses in aquatic reservoirs: A novel hydrodynamic approach applied to the Rhône delta (southern France)

Auteurs :

Vittecoq M.*, Gauduin H., Oudart T., Bertrand O., Roche B., Guillemain M., Boutron O.

* Auteur correspondant : Marion Vittecoq (contact)

Résumé :

Wild aquatic birds represent a natural reservoir of avian influenza viruses (AIV) that can be spread to poultry. AIV epizootics were associated with huge economic impacts during the last decades and are still of major concern. Within aquatic bird populations AIV are transmitted either by direct contact or through the ingestion of water that has been contaminated by infected individuals. This second route involving environmental transmission is of utmost importance in AIV dynamics, yet it has received far less attention than direct bird-to-bird contamination. Our objective was to combine a hydrodynamic model with data on mallard abundance and AIV infection rate within the population, so as to characterize virus dissemination within a complex wetland network. We chose the Vaccarès hydrosystem as a wetland model since it represents a large part of the Camargue region, which is a major wintering site for a large diversity of aquatic birds including AIV hosts. We aimed to identify the environmental parameters that drive AIV dynamics within this system and the spatio-temporal pattern of dispersion and persistence of viruses. Our results show that in a complex hydrosystem we can expect a great heterogeneity in AIV risk among wetlands. Our simulations underline how a simple “homogeneous box” approach could in the case of deltaic ecosystems minimize the expected risk by diluting it in the whole system. Moreover, such undermining of the risk perception could affect the predictions relative to risk duration. We present a new approach to identify hotspots of virus concentrations within deltaic areas that could take advantage of the duck count data, AIV surveys and hydrodynamic models that may already be available in several major duck wintering areas comprised of complex hydrosystems, such as the large European deltas. Our method could be of particular interest to optimize surveillance strategies in the current context of highly pathogenic AIV diffusion within wild bird populations.

Référence bibliographique complète :

Vittecoq M., Gauduin H., Oudart T., Bertrand O., Roche B., Guillemain M., Boutron O. 2017. Modeling the spread of avian influenza viruses in aquatic reservoirs: A novel hydrodynamic approach applied to the Rhône delta (southern France). Science of The Total Environment 595:787–800. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.165