|HPAI H5 Outbreaks Since July 1st - Credit IZSV|
After nearly a week without a issuing a new report (other than confirming several earlier HPAI H5 outbreaks as H5N8), Italy's IZSV (Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie) has announced three more outbreaks of HPAI H5; two in commercial poultry, and one in a wild bird (mute swan) found in the Lombardy region.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Italy
2016/2017 – H5N5, H5N8
Outbreaks | PDF (last update: 29/08/2017)
Map | PDF (last update: 29/08/2017)
29/08/2017 – On 25 August, the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease confirmed as positive for Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5N8 a rural farm with 25 chickens in Pavia province (Lombardy region). The birds have already been culled.
On the same day, another positive for Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5N8 was confirmed in a mute swan (Cygnus olor) found dead near a pond in Bergamo province (Lombardy region).
On 28 August, the NRL confirmed as positive for Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5 a fattening turkey farm in Verona province (Veneto region). At the moment of the epidemiological inquiry, there were 10.700 turkeys (males, 52 day-old). On 27 August, some turkeys exhibited nervous symptoms and, in the following day, a small increase in mortality and a decrease in the water consumption were observed. Culling, cleaning and disinfection procedures are ongoing for this last case.
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Although other European countries have reported a smattering of H5N8 cases over the summer (see DEFRA: Outbreak Assessment On H5N8 In Europe - Summer 2017) , Italy has reported far more cases (and greater losses) this summer than they saw during last winter's record epizootic.
Since July 1st, Italy has reported 19 outbreaks in poultry, and 2 detections in wild birds, resulting in the loss of over 900,000 birds.This persistence over the summer - albeit at low levels - is in sharp contrast to previous years when reports of H5N8 in Europe and North America all but disappeared once spring ended (see PNAS: The Enigma Of Disappearing HPAI H5 In North American Migratory Waterfowl).
The H5N8 virus that invaded Europe last fall arrived with several genetic changes (see EID Journal: Reassorted HPAI H5N8 Clade 126.96.36.199. - Germany 2016), resulting in pronounced changes in its behavior (record geographic spread, increased virulence in wild birds, increased avian host range, and the spinning off of new subtypes).
As Italy and the rest of Europe continue to deal with what are presumably remnants from last winter's epizootic, we are rapidly approaching the start to this year's fall migration (see 2016's Sci Repts.: Southward Autumn Migration Of Waterfowl Facilitates Transmission Of HPAI H5N1).Exactly what that will bring to Europe, North America and Asia this fall is unknowable, but given last year's impact, poultry interests throughout the Northern Hemisphere should be prepared for surprises.