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Eight EU Nations Report H5N1 in Migratory Birds


In a November 19th posting, ProMED-mail documented reports of highly pathogenic H5N1 isolates from free-living birds in Belgium, France, Hungary, Romania, Netherlands, Italy and Estonia.  Species infected included geese, swans, gulls, falcons and cormorants.  The number of outbreaks among migratory and resident birds is far higher in 2021compared to previous years.  Holland has recorded twenty-six outbreaks in the past week and nine by Estonia.  Other nations have confirmed one to five cases each.  The number of reports is obviously a reflection of the intensity of surveillance and sampling of both dead and hunter-killed birds.


The trend and frequency of isolation of avian influenza viruses from migratory and free-living birds serves as a predictor of future outbreaks in backyard and non-confined commercial flocks. Deficiencies in either structural or operational biosecurity in large complexes will lead to outbreaks in confined flocks if migratory birds introduce avian influenza viruses to an area.


Germany has reported two outbreaks in backyard multispecies flocks.  Italy has recorded fifty-nine outbreaks since mid-October in turkeys, laying hens, broilers, ducks and quail.  Hungary reported six outbreaks in commercial farms involving breeding ducks and geese maintained for production of foie gras.  A total of 332,000 birds were depleted as a control measure.  Given the high prevalence of H5N1 in numerous species of migratory waterfowl and shore birds in 2021 in the E.U., recommendations to confine flocks should be followed. 

Flocks Vulnerable to HPAI in France

Speakers at recent USDA-APHIS webinars stressed the need to upgrade biosecurity and to maintain strict separation between wild birds and commercial flocks, preventing both direct and indirect contact with wild bird reservoirs of infection. Farm employees should not participate in hunting birds. All personnel should undergo appropriate decontamination before entry to a commercial poultry facility.