Last season’s avian flu epidemic ‘largest ever’ in Europe

The avian influenza (AI) epidemic in Europe during the 2020/21 appears to be one of the largest ever recorded, according to a new report from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).

Across Europe there were a total of 1,298 outbreaks in poultry with 22.9 million birds affected. In addition, there were 85 cases recorded in captive birds, and 2,394 outbreaks in wild birds across 31 European countries. These numbers make it one of the largest HPAI epidemics that has ever occurred in Europe. The report notes that the number of reported wild bird outbreaks will be an underestimate of the total number of wild birds that have died from HPAI in the past year.

In the five month period alone between May and September 2021, there were 162 detected cases of HPAI in poultry, captive and wild birds across Europe. Kosovo was the worst affected country with 20 outbreak in poultry, with Poland second with 17. Since October 2020, Poland has suffered more outbreaks than any other country, with 357 poultry outbreaks affecting more than 14 million birds. 

HPAI is still circulating in domestic and wild bird populations in Europe with the last reports in poultry during August.

In the UK, on 3 September, the chief veterinary officer declared the UK officially free of AI.

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