We’ve confirmation from the OIE of yesterday’s report (see Netherlands: (Probably) Mild Bird Flu In Barneveld) that this latest outbreak is of the far less dangerous LPAI H7N7 virus.
First the OIE notification – which states : A 1 km restriction zone has been established on 12 March 2015. There are 17 other premises in the 1 km zone. All these premises are screened.
After which, I’ll return with a bit more about this type of avian flu.
Starting a roughly a decade ago, the OIE began requiring that all H5 and H7 infections in birds be reported, and that steps be made to control and eradicate outbreaks.
LPAI (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza) – which normally does little harm to flocks or humans – has the potential to evolve to HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) if not controlled, particularly when introduced into a crowded farming environment.
Up until two years ago, human infection with H7 avian viruses were both rare, and almost inevitably mild. Often little more than mild `flu-like’ symptoms and/or conjunctivitis.
The one notable exception occurred in 2003 in the Netherlands, when the largest known outbreak of H7N7 infected 89 people, one of whom died (see Eurosurveillance Journal Human-to-human transmission of avian influenza A/H7N7, The Netherlands, 2003).
But when H7N9 showed up in China two years ago - benign in birds but sporting an impressive morbidity and mortality rate in humans - suddenly H7 avian viruses were afforded with a lot more respect. .
There is a low risk of zoonotic transmission to people who are directly exposed to infected birds during the culling and destruction process when there are outbreaks in poultry farms. The risk can be minimised if the exercise is performed under the safety measures recommended in Directive 2005/94/EC. Persons with direct contact to infected poultry before or during culling and disposal should be monitored for symptoms, and postexposure antiviral prophylaxis should be considered.
The risk for zoonotic transmission to the general public in EU/EEA countries is considered to be extremely low.