Mahbubur Rahman

Project Title: Avian influenza transmission at the animal-human interface in Bangladesh

Project Outline: Zoonotic avian influenza virus (AIV) strains H5N1 and H9N2 are endemic in several Asian countries,including Bangladesh. Although these viruses have only caused sporadic infections in humans so far, their continuous circulation in poultry populations and their potential for recombination and/or reassortment withhuman influenza strains raise concern about their pandemic potential. This project aims to assess the risk of zoonotic transmission of AIVs at the human-animal interface in Bangladesh.

A cross-sectional survey with structured interviews will be conducted to assess live bird market workers andsmall-scale poultry farmers’ practices that impact on their likelihood of exposure to zoonotic AIVs. Using multivariable statistics, “profiles” presenting a high risk of exposure to AIV will be identified. Given thatbackyard poultry are generally raised by women, gender-specific exposure will be assessed separately. The cross-sectional survey conducted among small-scale poultry farmers and live bird market workers will alsoassess seroprevalence levels to H5, H7 and H9 AIVs. The association between their levels of potential risk of exposure to AIV, and their actual serological status to AIVs will be assessed. Likewise, the associationbetween serological status in humans and virological and serological status of in-contact poultry – which will be obtained in a parallel survey – will be examined. Finally, a study will be conducted in a sample of live bird markets to assess how hygiene interventions aiming to reduce the survival of AIVs in the environment and their zoonotic transmission are implemented. It will allow the development of recommendations to improve the effectiveness to these interventions.

This PhD project will be part a wider project involving several research institutions in the UK and Bangladesh, offering the successful applicant a unique opportunity to be part of an inter disciplinary research team and be exposed to a range of scientific disciplines and methods.

Supervisors: Dr Jackie Cardwell; Professor Mahmudur Rahman (Institute of Epidemiology,Disease Control and Research, Bangladesh); Dr Punam Mangtani (LSHTM); Dr Ahasanul Hoque (Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University)