Last year Europe experienced their worst avian epizootic in history with the arrival of a recently reassorted HPAI H5N8 virus carried in by migratory birds from Russia and China, which resulted in the loss of millions of birds across nearly all of Europe.
According to this report, between 19 October 2016 and 31 August 2017 (based on ADNS):
- 1,197 H5 HPAI outbreaks were reported in poultry or captive birds in 20 MSs 1,188 A(H5N8), 8 A(H5N5) and 1 A(H5N6);
- 1,470 H5 HPAI events were reported in wild birds in 23 MSs: 1,458 A(H5N8) HPAI and 12A(H5N5);
- 65 H5 LPAI outbreaks were reported in poultry and/or captive birds in 4 MSs, and 1 H7 LPAI outbreak was reported in poultry in France
This newly evolved H5N8 virus not only spread faster and farther than any other HPAI virus on record - it had considerably greater impact on wild and migratory birds than any previous subtype we've seen (see Avian Flu: That Was Then . . This Is Now).
Meanwhile, in Asia, HPAI H5N6 appears to be following in H5N8's footsteps, breaking out of China and turning up in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines over the past 12 months - sparking concerns that it might one day turn up in Europe (or North America) as well.
And unlike H5N8, H5N6 has a track record of infecting humans.Today, the ECDC, along with the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has released a 101 page report on last year's epizootic, which specifically cautions that H5N6 could become a threat to Europe at some time in the future.
This is an extraordinarily detailed and lengthy report which looks at global avian flu activity over the past year, not just in Europe. I've only begun to scratch the surface of this 101 page PDF file, but expect it to be a very useful reference in the months to come.Follow the link to download the full report.
The A(H5N8) highly pathogenic avian inﬂuenza (HPAI) epidemic occurred in 29 European countries in 2016/2017 and has been the largest ever recorded in the EU in terms of number of poultry outbreaks, geographical extent and number of dead wild birds.Multiple primary incursions temporally related with all major poultry sectors affected but secondary spread was most commonly associated with domestic waterfowl species. A massive effort of all the affected EU Member States (MSs) allowed a descriptive epidemiological overview of the cases in poultry, captive birds and wild birds, providing also information on measures applied at the individual MS level.Data on poultry population structure are required to facilitate data and risk factor analysis, hence to strengthen science-based advice to risk managers. It is suggested to promote common understanding and application of deﬁnitions related to control activities and their reporting across MSs.Despite a large number of human exposures to infected poultry occurred during the ongoing outbreaks, no transmission to humans has been identiﬁed.
Monitoring the avian inﬂuenza (AI) situation in other continents indicated a potential risk of long-distance spread of HPAI virus (HPAIV) A(H5N6) from Asia to wintering grounds towards Western Europe, similarly to what happened with HPAIV A(H5N8) and HPAIV A(H5N1) in previous years.Furthermore, the HPAI situation in Africa with A(H5N8) and A(H5N1) is rapidly evolving. Strengthening collaborations at National, EU and Global levels would allow close monitoring of the AI situation, ultimately helping to increase preparedness. No human case was reported in the EU due to AIVs subtypes A(H5N1), A(H5N6), A(H7N9) and A(H9N2). Direct transmission of these viruses to humans has only been reported in areas, mainly in Asia and Egypt, with a substantial involvement of wild bird and/or poultry populations. It is suggested to improve the collection and reporting of exposure events of people to AI.