World news

Europe is experiencing the “most devastating” epidemic in its history

Europe has been experiencing the avian flu epidemic for more than a year“most devastating” never observed on its soil, health authorities said on Tuesday, December 20, with around 50 million poultry slaughtered in farms infected with the virus.

Between October 2021 and September 2022, “Europe has been hit by the most devastating outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)”with 37 European countries affected, and more than 2,500 outbreaks detected on farms across the continent, according to a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and from the European Union reference laboratory.

The losses of chickens, ducks or turkeys in the farms are, in reality, more considerable, because this assessment of 50 million euthanized birds does not include the preventive slaughters which could be carried out around the hearths, specified the agency health at AFP. The epidemic has not abated since September, and contamination is doubling even as winter approaches.

Flu cases have not dropped this summer

EFSA stresses that, ” for the first time “there was no marked separation between two epidemic waves, the virus not having disappeared in favor of the summer.

And this fall, the epidemic has already been more virulent than last year at the same time, with a 35% higher number of infected farms. Between September 10 and December 2, 2022, nearly 400 outbreaks were recorded in farms in 18 European countries, France, the United Kingdom and Hungary in the lead.

The virus has also been detected more than 600 times in wild birds and in particular aquatic birds (ducks, swans), which could, according to this report, have contributed to spreading the virus inside farms.

Following a request from the European Commission, EFSA “is currently evaluating the availability of HPAI vaccines for poultry, and examining possible vaccination strategies”. The results of this work, eagerly awaited by breeders, will be known in the second half of 2023.


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