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Avian Influenza Reported on a Large Farm In Belgium


According to a ProMED report, an outbreak of H5N1 strain avian influenza involving 30,000 commercial poultry (type not specified) was diagnosed in Sint-Laureins in East Flanders, Belgium on September 18th.  It is presumed that the infection involved contact with wild birds as stated in the WOAH report. 


Outbreaks of H5N1 Avian Influenza persist in wild birds, backyard farms and commercial flocks through various nations in Europe. This week WOAH received a report of a limited outbreak in a small commercial farm near Lodz, Poland.  For 2022 to date, 35 outbreaks of HPAI have occurred on poultry farms in Poland with an additional 28 diagnosed cases in wild birds.


During previous outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, cases occurred at the beginning of the Fall migration of waterfowl, commencing in November and December and ceasing by March.  For 2021 through 2022, incident cases followed the early seasonal pattern but persisted through Summer and now into Fall.  This presumes dissemination of virus by non-migratory endemic birds and now small mammals. The incidence rate represents a major shift in the epidemiology of HPAI and hence, the need to reassess prevention relying on biosecurity and control comprising depopulation with quarantine and decontamination. These modalities are appropriate for an exotic disease but it must now be questioned whether HPAI has not become seasonally or continually endemic.