Surveillance report: Avian influenza overview (October 2016–August 2017)

Surveillance report
Publication series: Avian influenza overview
Time period covered: October 2016–August 2017

European Food Safety Authority, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, European Union Reference Laboratory for Avian influenza, Brown I, Mulatti P, Smietanka K, Staubach C, Willeberg P, Adlhoch C, Candiani D, Fabris C, Zancanaro G, Morgado J and Verdonck F, 2017. Scientific report on the avian influenza overview October 2016–August 2017. EFSA Journal 2017;15(10):5018, 101 pp.

The “Avian influenza overview” report is published quarterly and provide an update of the developments of avian influenza viruses in EU/EEA and worldwide, in particular with a view to describe the evolution of virus spread from certain regions towards the EU. In case of significant changes in the epidemiology of avian influenza, these reports could be needed more frequently.

The report is published jointly by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Union Reference Laboratory for Avian influenza (EURL). Avian influenza is an infectious viral disease in birds, including domestic poultry. Avian influenza is mainly found in birds, but under certain circumstances infections can also occur in humans even though the risk is generally very low.

Executive summary

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.