October 4, 2022
Europe's worst bird flu crisis this year raises concerns for next season
The European Union's Food Safety Agency (EFSA) said the region was hit by the worst bird flu crisis this year, with about 50 million poultry culled, and this has raised concerns over widespread infections of the virus next season, Reuters reported.
Governments and the poultry industry are worried about the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu, because it can decimate flocks and pose a risk of human transmission.
According to a joint review by the EFSA, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and the EU reference laboratory, an unprecedented number of outbreaks were reported in wild and domestic birds this summer, causing massive mortality among sea bird breeding colonies on the north Atlantic coast.
Winter and fall are typically the seasons when bird flu outbreaks occur. It is spread through direct contact with contaminated feed, clothing, or equipment as well as through the droppings of infected migratory wild birds.
Guilhem de Seze, a senior official at the EFSA, said as autumn migration begins and the number of wild birds wintering in Europe increases, they are likely at higher risk of HPAI infection than previous years due to the observed persistence of the virus in Europe.
The virus crossed the Atlantic for the first time along migration routes, causing a severe epidemic in poultry in several Canadian provinces and US States, EFSA said. This season's epidemic affected 37 European countries in total, the greatest geographic reach on record.
Overall, the ongoing bird flu crisis this season, which has resulted in 2,467 reported outbreaks in poultry and the culling of 47.7 million birds, is the worst to ever affect Europe, according to the EFSA report.
In addition, 3,573 HPAI events in wild birds and 187 detections in captive birds were reported.
For an early virus detection, the EFSA advised the rapid implementation of risk mitigation and surveillance strategies.