Outbreaks of bird flu. A year ago the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed that Europe was suffering the largest epidemic of this virus, Both the number of outbreaks in birds and the geographical extent “are unprecedented,” the European organization noted. The situation has not changed.
According to the latest ECDC bulletin, between June 24 and September 1, 2023, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the so-called A(H5,) in domestic birds were reported (25 ) and wild (482) in 21 European countries. They highlight that The current epidemic in wild birds has already exceeded that of the previous epidemiological year in terms of total number of detections of the most pathogenic virus.
Today a study published in Nature certifies these facts. At the same time, it reveals important changes in ecology and evolution of highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza viruses, including a significant change in global distribution. The findings suggest that the epicenter of these viruses has spread beyond Asia to new regions, including parts of Africa and Europe.
The activity of the highly pathogenic avian virus H5N1 has intensified globally since 2021, infecting and killing increasing numbers of wild birds and poultry, as well as posing a risk to mammals (including humans). This is because the feared ‘species jump’ from birds to mammals has occurred. proven through incidental infections in mink and also in gray seals in New England in the USA.
Gustavo del Real, researcher at the National Institute of Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA-CSIC), recalls, as reported by SMC, that “although the H5N1 viruses initially emerged in China in 1996, the appearance of outbreaks with evolved strains of the H5 subtype has not ceased since then, mainly in Asia. This study clarifies the origin and underlying evolution of virus H5N1 highly pathogenic responsible for the bird flu panzootic that emerged in 2021“.