Bangladeshi backyard poultry raisers' perceptions and practices related to zoonotic transmission of avian influenza

Rebeca Sultana, Nadia Ali Rimi, Shamim Azad, M. Saiful Islam, M. Salah Uddin Khan, Emily S. Gurley, Nazmun Nahar, Stephen P. Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Introduction: Highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) virus (known as "bird flu") is an important public health concern due to its potential to infect humans and cause a human pandemic. Bangladesh is a high-risk country for an influenza pandemic because of its dense human population, widespread backyard poultry raising, and endemic H5N1 infection in poultry. Understanding poultry raisers' perceived risks and identifying their risk exposures can help to develop interventions to reduce the risk of avian influenza transmission. This paper explores the perception of Bangladeshi backyard poultry raisers regarding poultry sickness and zoonotic disease transmission and relevant practices. Methodology: We conducted a qualitative study using social mapping (n=2), in-depth interviews (n=40), household mapping (n=40) and observation (n=16), in two backyard poultry-raising communities. Results: The poultry raisers recognized various signs of poultry illness but they did not distinguish among diseases using biomedical classifications. They perceived disease transmission from poultry to poultry, but not from poultry to humans. They usually kept sick poultry under the bed. If the poultry did not recover, they were slaughtered and consumed or sold. The poultry raisers had close contact with sick birds while handling and slaughtering poultry. Conclusions: The poultry raisers are unlikely to follow instructions from health authorities to prevent "bird flu" transmission because many of the instructions ask low-income producers to change their existing practices and require time, money, and financial loss. Villagers are more likely to comply with interventions that help to protect their flocks and address their financial interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-165
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of infection in developing countries
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian influenza
  • Backyard raisers
  • Bangladesh
  • Perception
  • Poultry
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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