Prevalence monitoring of avian influenza in wild bird populations is important to estimate risks for the occurrence of potentially zoonotic and economically disastrous outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (AIV) in poultry worldwide. A targeted, cost-effective monitoring method for AIV in wild birds was developed, which is based on monitoring results for AIV in Germany and information on the distribution and abundance of wild bird species in selected habitat types. Spatial data were combined with virological and outbreak data for the period of 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2010. Using Germany as an example, we identified 11 indicator species. By concentrating monitoring efforts on these species in spatially confined locations, we propose a targeted and more cost-effective risk-based AIV monitoring approach that can be adapted universally for the identification of wild bird indicator species worldwide with the perspective of reducing sample sizes (and costs) without impairing the validity of the results.
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