Italy, which reported only 16 HPAI H5N8 outbreaks during all of last winter's record-setting European epizootic (Jan-Jun), has reported a surge in activity since early July. Over the past 5 weeks, eight poultry outbreaks and one detection in wild ducks have been reported (see last week's Italy's IZSV Reports Three More HPAI H5 Outbreaks).
Late yesterday the IZSV confirmed two recent poultry outbreaks were due to H5N8, as well as confirming test results on a duck die off at a pond in the Lombardy Region.
2016/2017 – H5N5, H5N8
Outbreaks | PDF (last update: 04/08/2017)
Map | PDF (last update: 04/08/2017)
04/08/2017 – On 3 August, all three cases of Avian Influenza confirmed on 02 August have been characterised by the National Reference Laboratory as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza viruses subtype H5N8.
03/08/2017 – On 2 August, the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease confirmed as positive for Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5 a fattening turkey farm in Verona province (Veneto region). There were 5.642 male fattening turkeys (47 days-old) present in the farm. On 31 July, there was a decrease in the feed and water intake and, in the following day, a steep increase in mortality was observed. The culling procedures, as well as the cleaning and disinfection operations, were concluded under official supervision on 2 August.
In the same day, the NRL confirmed another positivity to Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5 in a fattening turkey farm in Parma province (Emilia Romagna region). The farm had about 26.500 male fattening turkeys (91 days-old). The case was reported to the Authorities after an increase in mortality was observed. This farm was the site of a previous outbreak of Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N8), confirmed on 2 February and resolved on 9 February.
Lastly, on 2 August the NRL confirmed as positive to Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5 samples obtained from a pool of organs sampled from wild ducks found dead near a lake in the province of Pavia (Lombardy region).
Since it emerged in 2014, H5N8's modus operandi has been to pretty much vanish during the summer months (see PNAS: The Enigma Of Disappearing HPAI H5 In North American Migratory Waterfowl), but that pattern appears to have changed since the arrival of a newly reassorted virus to Europe last fall.
In addition to 8 outbreaks in Italy, since early June we've seen a spate of outbreaks cut a swath across Luxembourg, Belgium, and just barely into northern France (see Belgium Reports Another Outbreak of HPAI H5N8), while the UK, Finland, and the Netherlands all reported single outbreaks.This re-booted H5N8 virus has also spread faster, farther, and to more avian species (see ESA list of 78 affected species) than we'd seen previously, and appears to be more pathogenic in wild birds than in the past (see Europe: Unusual Mortality Among WIld Birds From H5N8).
While Europe continues to deal with low levels of H5N8 left over from last winter's epizootic, we are now less than 90 days away from the annual return of migratory birds from their high latitude summer roosting areas.As far as what that will mean to Europe, North America, or Asia . . . stay tuned.