Avian influenza overview November2019 - February 2020
Between 16 November 2019 and 15 February 2020, 36 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N8) virus outbreakswere reported in Europe in poultry (n=34), captive birds (n=1) and wild birds (n=2), in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Germany, Czechiaand Ukraine,one HPAI outbreakcaused by a simultaneous infection with A(H5N2) and A(H5N8) was reported in poultry in Bulgaria, andtwo low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) A(H5) virus outbreaks were reported in poultryin the United Kingdom and in Denmark. Genomic characterisation of the HPAI A(H5N8) viruses suggests that they are reassortants of HPAI A(H5N8) viruses from Africa and LPAI viruses from Eurasia. It is likely that this reassortment occurred in wild migratory birds in Asia during the summer and then spread to eastern Europe with the autumnmigration. This is the first time that wild bird migration from Africa to Eurasia has been implicated in the long‐distance spread of HPAI viruses to the EU. Given the late incursion of HPAI A(H5N8) virus into the EU in this winter season (first outbreak reported on 30 December 2019), its overall restriction to eastern Europe, and the approaching spring migration, the risk of the virus spreadingfurther in the west via wild birds is decreasing for the coming months. Genetic analysis of the HPAI A(H5N2) and A(H5N8) viruses detected in the Bulgarian outbreak reveals that these virusesare both related to the 2018‐19 Bulgarian HPAI A(H5N8) viruses and not to the HPAI A(H5N8) viruses currently circulating in Europe.An increasing number of HPAI A(H5N1), A(H5N2), A(H5N5) and A(H5N6) virus outbreaks in poultry in Asia were reported during the time period for this report compared with the previous reporting period. Single outbreaks of HPAI A(H5N8) virus were notified by Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Furthermore, in contrast to the last report, HPAI virus‐positive wild birds were reported from Israel and one of the key migration areas in northern China.Two human cases due to A(H9N2) virus infection were reported during the reporting period.