Monday, December 15, 2014

EFSA’s Report On H5N8’s Arrival In Europe


H5N8 Branching Out To Europe & Japan

# 9440


On a morning where the German media is reporting another suspected bird flu outbreak (see below), we’ve a statement and study released by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) that attempts to divine just how the H5N8 avian flu virus managed to get from South Korea to Western Europe in just a matter of months.

But first, one of several media reports in the German press on a suspected bird flu outbreak at a turkey farm in a district of Cloppenburg. Testing is underway to determine if this outbreak is due to same H5N8 virus which has struck in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK over the past six weeks.


Turkey Farm affected

Bird flu suspected case in the district of Cloppenburg

15.12.2014, 13:43 clock

Osnabrück. If the bird flu H5N8 pathogen reaches the poultry Weser-Ems region? In a turkey barn in the district of Cloppenburg there should be a suspected case.

The district confirmed a report of the NDR. Accordingly, it should be a turkey barn with nearly 20,000 animals from the northern district. The State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (LAVES) is currently examining whether this is the introduced from Asia, pathogens, according to a spokesman of the circle. That suspicion is confirmed, all animals had to be killed.

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It should be noted that there are a number of other avian flu viruses that could be responsible for this outbreak, including the H7 subtypes.  We should know more in a day or so.


Meanwhile the EFSA has published the following news item summarizing the findings of their report on the entry of H5N8 into Europe.  As you will see, their findings are inconclusive.


H5N8 avian influenza: EFSA assesses entry routes into Europe

News Story
15 December 2014

The precise route of introduction of the H5N8 virus into Europe still remains uncertain, says a scientific report of EFSA that has been generated in collaboration with Member States and the EU Reference Laboratory.

It is plausible that the virus has entered poultry farms in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom indirectly, through material contaminated by infected wild birds - such as human activities, movement of vehicles or equipment. As all affected farms use indoor housing facilities, experts conclude that a direct transmission from wild birds to farmed poultry is unlikely.

Experts say that there are no known direct migration routes from East Asia to Europe. One hypothesis is that infected migratory birds from East Asia transmit the virus to other species at breeding and stopover places in Eurasia, but this hypothesis needs further investigation.

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And a link to the actual report.  I’ve included the (slightly reformatted for readability) abstract, but follow the link to download the entire study.



Highly pathogenic avian influenza A subtype H5N8

EFSA Journal 2014;12(12):3941 [32 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2014.3941

European Food Safety Authority Acknowledgment Contact European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Type: Scientific Report of EFSA On request from: European Commission Question number: EFSA-Q-2014-00838 Approved: 05 December 2014 Published: 15 December 2014 Affiliation: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy


Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 outbreaks in poultry farms have been reported in Asia and Europe since January and November 2014, respectively. The entry of HPAI H5N8 into Europe and its subsequent spread within Europe are two separate events with possibly different transmission vectors.

Following epidemiological investigations of infected poultry holdings, there is not yet a clear indication of the source of the virus. There are no known direct bird migration routes from Asia to western Europe. It has been hypothesised that long-distance transmission of HPAI viruses could occur as a result of cross-infection between different birds in north Eurasian breeding areas, but this hypothesis needs further investigation. HPAI H5N8 has been detected in wild bird populations in Germany and the Netherlands.

Direct contact between wild birds and farmed birds in the affected holdings was unlikely. It is more plausible that indirect introduction of HPAI H5N8 to poultry holdings via humans, vehicles, equipment, fomites, live animals and/or animal-derived products contaminated with virus (for instance in faeces) of  infected birds took place. Investigations in the Netherlands suggest separate introductions into four holdings and one between-farm transmission.

Assessing biosecurity procedures is recommended with a focus on segregation, cleaning and disinfection, and improving where necessary. Given the apparent low pathogenicity of HPAI H5N8 for several wild bird species, focused strategic and proportionate enhancement of active and passive surveillance of living and dead wild birds in the high risk areas would improve the understanding of the risk of virus transmission to poultry. It might also facilitate the design of targeted measures to reduce the risk of virus transmission between poultry and wild birds. Timely updated analyses on the evolving situation within the European Union are required, as well as assessment of all transmission routes that might transport HPAI viruses from Asia to Europe.

© European Food Safety Authority, 2014

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