Theoretical models have successfully predicted the evolution of poultry pathogen virulence in industrialized farm contexts of broiler chicken populations. Whether there are ecological factors specific to more traditional rural farming that affect virulence is an open question. Within non-industrialized farming networks, live bird markets are known to be hotspots of transmission, but whether they could shift selection pressures on the evolution of poultry pathogen virulence has not been addressed. Here, we revisit predictions for the evolution of virulence for viral poultry pathogens, such as Newcastle’s disease virus, Marek’s disease virus, and influenza virus, H5N1, using a compartmental model that represents transmission in rural markets. We show that both the higher turnover rate and higher environmental persistence in markets relative to farms could select for higher optimal virulence strategies. In contrast to theoretical results modeling industrialized poultry farms, we find that cleaning could also select for decreased virulence in the live poultry market setting. Additionally, we predict that more virulent strategies selected in markets could circulate solely within poultry located in markets. Thus, we recommend the close monitoring of markets not only as hotspots of transmission, but as potential sources of more virulent strains of poultry pathogens.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy