Perceived Risk of Avian Influenza and Urbanization in Northern Vietnam

Published in: EcoHealth, [Epub February 2017] pp 111, doi:10.1007/s10393-017-1213-5

Posted on on March 16, 2017

by Melissa L. Finucane, Nghiem Tuyen, Sumeet Saksena, James H. Spencer, Jefferson Fox, Nguyen Lam, Trinh Dinh Thau, Tran Duc Vien, Nancy, Lewis

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Research Questions

  1. How does perception of risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) affect the steps that backyard poultry raisers take to protect their birds from the virus?
  2. Do differences in the setting in which they live, in terms of urbanization, affect their perception of risk?

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is an important public health concern because of potential for widespread morbidity and mortality in humans and poultry and associated devastating economic losses. We examined how perceptions of the risk of HPAI in poultry vary across communes/wards in the north of Vietnam at different levels of urbanization (rural, peri-urban, urban). Analyses of questionnaire responses from 1081 poultry raisers suggested that the perceived risk of HPAI in poultry was highest in peri-urban and rural settings. We also found that perceived risk was higher when respondents rated settings in which they did not live and that the process of change is related to perceived risk. Compared with others, respondents in peri-urban areas reported less disease management planning; respondents in rural areas reported less ability to separate infected poultry. These findings are consistent with, and add to, the limited previous research on the perceived risk of HPAI in poultry in developing countries. What is new in the present findings is that we describe how urbanization is related to people’s perceptions of and ability to respond appropriately to variations in their environment. In particular, the inability to respond is not necessarily because of an inability to perceive change. Rather, rapid and extensive change poses different challenges for poultry management as communes move from rural to peri-urban to urban settings. Our results suggest that health promotion campaigns should address the perceptions and needs of poultry raisers in different settings.

Key Findings

  • Backyard poultry raisers in urban and peri-urban settings were most likely to perceive high risk of HPAI infection.
  • Generally, respondents tended to perceive other, distant places as being at higher risk of HPAI infection than their own setting.
  • Perceptions of how to prevent the spread of HPAI varied across rural, urban, and peri-urban settings.
  • Respondents in peri-urban settings were less likely than those in other settings to make a plan to protect against infection.


Before, during, and after an outbreak, public and animal health campaigns that are tailored to the needs of poultry raisers in all three settings are needed to help disseminate accurate information and acknowledge the role of urbanization in the spread of HPAI.

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