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Public Health Rep. 2008 May-Jun;123(3):282-99.

The animal-human interface and infectious disease in industrial food animal production: rethinking biosecurity and biocontainment.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Division of Environmental Health Engineering, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Understanding interactions between animals and humans is critical in preventing outbreaks of zoonotic disease. This is particularly important for avian influenza. Food animal production has been transformed since the 1918 influenza pandemic. Poultry and swine production have changed from small-scale methods to industrial-scale operations. There is substantial evidence of pathogen movement between and among these industrial facilities, release to the external environment, and exposure to farm workers, which challenges the assumption that modern poultry production is more biosecure and biocontained as compared with backyard or small holder operations in preventing introduction and release of pathogens. An analysis of data from the Thai government investigation in 2004 indicates that the odds of H5N1 outbreaks and infections were significantly higher in large-scale commercial poultry operations as compared with backyard flocks. These data suggest that successful strategies to prevent or mitigate the emergence of pandemic avian influenza must consider risk factors specific to modern industrialized food animal production.

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