Surveillance report: Avian influenza overview (September – November 2017)

Scientific and technical publications Surveillance report
22 Dec 2017
Publication series: Avian influenza overview
Time period covered: September - November 2017

EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control), EURL (European Reference Laboratory on Avian Influenza), Brown I, Kuiken T, Mulatti P, Smietanka K, Staubach C, Stroud D, Therkildsen OR, Willeberg P, Baldinelli F, Verdonck F and Adlhoch C, 2017. Scientific report: Avian influenza overview September - November 2017. EFSA Journal 2017;15(12):5141, 70 pp. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2017.5141

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

Between 1 September and 15 November 2017, 48 A(H5N8) highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in poultry holdings and 9 H5 HPAI wild bird events were reported within Europe. A second epidemic HPAI A(H5N8) wave started in Italy on the third week of July and is still ongoing on 15 November 2017. The Italian epidemiological investigations indicated that sharing of vehicles, sharing of personnel and close proximity to infected holdings are the more likely sources of secondary spread in a densely populated poultry area. Despite the ongoing human exposures to infected poultry during the outbreaks, no transmission to humans has been identified in the EU. The report includes an update of the list of wild bird target species for passive surveillance activities that is based on reported AI-infected wild birds since 2006. The purpose of this list is to provide information on which bird species to focus in order to achieve the most effective testing of dead birds for detection of H5 HPAI viruses. Monitoring the avian influenza situation in other continents revealed the same risks as in the previous report (October 2016-August 2017): the recent human case of HPAI A(H5N6) in China underlines the continuing threat of this avian influenza virus to human health and possible introduction via migratory wild birds into Europe. Close monitoring is required of the situation in Africa with regards to HPAI of the subtypes A(H5N1) and A(H5N8), given the rapidity of the evolution and the uncertainty on the geographical distribution of these viruses. Interactions between EFSA and member states have taken place to initiate discussions on improving the quality of data collections and to find a step-wise approach to exchange relevant (denominator) data without causing an additional resource burden.