Europe reported more than 1000 bird flu outbreaks in 3 months
There were large outbreaks of bird flu reported by the European poultry industry between December 2020 and February this year. The number, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), has passed 1,000 outbreaks in 25 EU member states and the UK, with 592 reported in poultry farms.
The worst impacted industry was the French one, with 442 outbreaks in poultry, mostly in the Landes province. It is followed by Germany, with 50 outbreaks in poultry farms and Poland, with 37 cases in poultry farms. In total, the three countries account for 43% of the EU poultry production and restrictions applied in several third markets have created turmoil in the single market.
The impact of the viruses was significantly larger in areas with high poultry density, as in the case of the Landes (France). "Due to the continuous presence of the HPAI H5 virus in wild birds and in the environment, there is still a potential risk of spread, which can cause high mortality on farms affected ducks and, therefore, their mortality can be considered a good indicator of the presence of the virus. To improve the early detection of poultry in the surveillance zone, breeders should be encouraged to carry out daily clinical inspection of the ducks and to collect dead birds for laboratory analysis," advice EFSA.
Six different genotypes have been identified in Europe and Russia, suggesting a high propensity and mutagenicity of these viruses. Regarding the impacts on public health, in Europe, there was no evidence of fixation of mutations with zoonotic potential. Nevertheless, Russia reported 7 cases due to the HPAI A (H5N8) virus, all of them poultry workers with few or no symptoms, while China had 5 cases of H5N6 HPAI and 10 cases of H9N2 HPAI. In any case, EFSA considers that the risk for the general population, as well as for imported human cases related to travel, is very low and the risk for people who are occupationally exposed is low.
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