After more than 3 months without reporting an outbreak, Italy's IZSV (Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie) is back this morning with their first HPAI outbreak in poultry for 2018.
Last year, between July and November, Italian authorities reported more than 60 H5N8 outbreaks and the loss of millions of birds, but outbreaks stopped abruptly in early December.While details are limited, we have the following from the IZSV, after which I'll return with a postscript.
Outbreaks | PDF (last update: 08/03/2018)
Maps | PDF (last update: 05/03/20187)
On 5 March, the National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease confirmed as positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A virus subtype H5N8 a laying hen farm in Bergamo province (Lombardy region).
At the time of confirmation, the farm housed about 95,000 birds. On 2 March, a marked mortality increase and a drop in egg production were reported to the Veterinary Services. Further information will be provided as soon as available.
During Europe's record epizootic over the winter of 2016-17, Italy was only lightly affected, reporting just 16 outbreaks in the first half of 2017. Then, even after H5N8 activity in the rest of Europe had plunged for the summer, Italy began to report poultry outbreaks and detections in wild birds in late July.
Just as outbreaks appeared to be reaching new heights in November (15 outbreaks in the first 15 days) - they stopped - with the last poultry outbreak reported on Nov 30th.Italy's recent run of avian flu (emerging in the summer, disappearing in the winter) runs contrary to the usual pattern, but then, HPAI H5 has been full of surprises over the past couple of years.
After failing to return to Europe last fall - replaced instead by a newly reassorted H5N6 virus - H5N8 sightings this winter have pretty much restricted to the Middle East and the African continent.
This week, however, we've now seen two H5N8 outbreaks reported in Europe (see Monday's Bulgaria NVS: HPAI H5N8 Outbreak In Commercial Poultry In General Toshevo).Whether this is a blip or a trend is hard to say, but it is something for us to keep our eyes on.