When it comes to summarizing Europe's HPAI H5N8/H5Nx epizootic the UK's DEFRA, Germany's FLI (Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut), and France's ESA (Epidemiosurveillance Santé Animale) have consistently provided us with the most complete information.
Today it is DEFRA's turn, with the publication of their 11th Outbreak Assessment (complete list here).
Due to its length I've limited excerpts to the Situation Assessment and Conclusions. Details on the UK's recent outbreaks and detections in wild birds are contained in the first section (Disease report).
To put this report into perspective, the United State's great HPAI H5 epizootic of 2014-2015 affected roughly 230 farms, while the number of farm outbreaks across Europe now exceeds 830 - and that number continues to climb.
Follow the link to download the entire PDF report, including additional maps and links.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N8 in the UK and Europe
22 February 2017 Ref: VITT/1200 Avian Influenza in UK & Europe
All wild bird positives are published on a weekly basis on the APHA website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/avian-influenza-in-wild-birds-winter-2016-to-2017. Only exceptional reports in new regions or unusual wild bird findings (ie a change to the disease epidemiology) will be officially reported separately.
The situation in Europe has continued with wild bird findings still being reported. However the list of species which are now testing positive involves more swans, including whooper and mute swans (Cygnus cygnus and Cygnus olor respectively). The reasons for this may be simply that as large, white birds, they are easier to spot but more importantly, these are relatively sedentary birds once they have arrived at a wintering site, so they will have greater contact with contaminated environment and therefore be more likely to become infected than a transitory visitor. Elsewhere, the number of outbreaks across Europe, the Middle East, West Africa and Asia has also continued to increase; new countries reporting H5N8 include Kuwait and Cameroon. There have been around 820 outbreaks in poultry and 38 in captive birds reported now to the EU ADNS system (which may include non-EU countries) and a small number of H5N5 reports and each day more reports are made, particularly for wild bird findings.
As a result of the continuing reporting in the EU, the risk level for the UK is maintained at “HIGH” for an incursion of an infected wild bird, and as “LOW TO MEDIUM” for introduction of infection to poultry on individual premises dependent on the level of on-farm biosecurity. Commercial poultry premises with good or high biosecurity measures are unlikely to get disease. The widespread locations of the positive wild bird findings suggest that we should consider the whole of the UK as a risk area for wild bird infection but that areas with populations of waterfowl species may carry a greater risk proportionally in terms of risk level for poultry premises.
As a result of the increase in positive findings in wild birds in Europe, we ask that the public use the Defra helpline (Tel: 03459 33 55 77) to report findings of dead wild birds. In particular, any wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey and where more than five birds of any species are found dead in the same location.
Further information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu including updated biosecurity advice for poultry keepers which they should take note of: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#prevention-zone
We continue to consider the risk level is high for further introductions via wild birds, but the risk of entry into poultry farms remains as low to medium depending on the level of biosecurity. Several EU countries have now kept birds indoors for up to 12 weeks and therefore a decision may be made for birds to be turned out to retain free range status. If they are released onto ranges with environmental contamination then further outbreaks could occur, and in the current climate and season, virus can remain in the environment for several weeks at this time of year.
We would like to remind all poultry keepers that the clinical signs of this virus are variable and will depend on the species, but any suspicion of production drop, increased mortality, sick and depressed birds with a temperature and neurological signs should be initially discussed with their private veterinarian.
We will continue to report on the situation
International Disease Monitoring team