After reporting just 16 H5N8 outbreaks in the first half of 2017 (Jan-Jun), Italy has - over the past 6 weeks - reported 13 poultry outbreaks, and 1 detection in wild birds. Seven of those poultry outbreaks have been confirmed over just the past week.
Today Italy's IZSV (Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie) updated their list, and provided details, on their latest outbreak - affecting a turkey farm in Mantua province
2016/2017 – H5N5, H5N8August 201709/08/2017 – On 9 August, the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease confirmed as positive for Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5N8 a fattening turkey farm in Mantua province. At the moment of the epidemiological inquiry, there were 6.502 128 day-old turkeys present in the farm. In the days before the confirmation, there was a slight increase in the mortality and a decrease in water and feed intake. The positive farm is located on the limit of the protection zone of the outbreak confirmed on 21 July in a laying hen farm in Mantua province. Further information on virus characterization and phylogenetic analysis will be provided as soon as available.
H5N8 arrived in Europe last fall with a number of new genetic changes (see EID Journal: Reassorted HPAI H5N8 Clade 188.8.131.52. - Germany 2016), and we saw some pronounced changes in its behavior over the winter (record geographic spread, increased virulence in wild birds, increased avian host range, and the spinning off of new subtypes).
This summer we've seen unusual persistence in wild birds - something that was not reported after the European and North American H5N8 epizootics of 2014-15 (see PNAS: The Enigma Of Disappearing HPAI H5 In North American Migratory Waterfowl).It will be of considerable interest to see if Italy's planned virus characterizations and phylogenetic analysis uncovers any additional changes to the virus.