The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) calls for increased surveillance of avian influenza as outbreaks in poultry and wild birds intensify

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) [to 20 Nov 2021]
Press Releases, Statements
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) calls for increased surveillance of avian influenza as outbreaks in poultry and wild birds intensify
Press Release 19 November 2021
Various subtypes of high pathogenicity avian influenza have been reported by more than 40 countries over the last six months. 
During the high-risk period of this disease October to April, countries need to scale up surveillance efforts, implement strict biosecurity measures and ensure a timely reporting of outbreaks to curb its spread.

Paris, 19 November 2021 – Since 1 May 2021, outbreaks of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) have been confirmed in 41 countries from different regions in poultry and wild birds. Currently present in Africa, Asia and Europe, the disease is a threat to economic stability, food security and livelihoods. Commonly known as bird flu, avian influenza is a very contagious disease which affects several species of poultry, as well as pet birds and wild birds, and occasionally, humans. This complex disease is caused by viruses divided in multiple subtypes whose genetic characteristics rapidly evolve. Over recent years, numerous subtypes of the HPAI viruses have been circulating in diverse bird populations on a large geographical scale. In particular in 2021, an unprecedented genetic variability of subtypes has been reported in birds, thus creating an epidemiologically challenging landscape. H5N1, H5N3, H5N4, H5N5, H5N6 or H5N8 are the subtypes currently circulating in poultry and wild bird populations across the world…

Because of the disease impacts on the livelihoods of poultry farmers and on international trade, as well as the risks of transmission to humans, the animal health sector must implement strict biosecurity measures in farms, in commerce and in live bird markets to prevent it from spreading. For instance, isolating infected birds from healthy ones and cleaning and disinfecting poultry premises is highly recommended. Proper planning and the implementation of surveillance programmes in wild birds, as well as, avoiding direct or indirect contact between domestic and wild birds is equally critical in mitigating outbreaks in domestic poultry and preventing the introduction of the virus into flocks. Thus, the OIE urges countries to maintain their surveillance efforts and to continue timely reporting of avian influenza outbreaks in both poultry and non-poultry species including wild birds.