Rapid risk assessment: Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) in Europe, 18 November 2016

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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) in Europe – 18 November 2016. Stockholm: ECDC; 2016

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​This Rapid Risk Assessment summarises the epidemiological, virological and environmental information relating to outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus subtype A(H5N8) in Europe up to 15 November 2016. It concludes that the risk of zoonotic transmission to the general public in EU/EEA countries is considered to be ​very low.

Executive summary

This Rapid Risk Assessment summarises the epidemiological, virological and environmental information relating to outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus subtype A(H5N8) in Europe up to 15 November 2016. It concludes that the risk of zoonotic transmission to the general public in EU/EEA countries is considered to be ​very low.

Eight European countries have reported highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N8) viruses in wild birds, zoo birds and poultry holdings. This is the second time this virus has been introduced into Europe via the autumn migration of wild birds although A(H5N8) has been circulating continuously in Asia since 2010. Full genome sequencing of recent HPAI A(H5N8) viruses suggest that these viruses remain essentially bird viruses without any specific increased risk for humans. No human infections with this virus have ever been reported world-wide. ECDC’s updated rapid risk assessment​ concludes that the risk of transmission to the general public in Europe is considered to be very low. 

Ongoing monitoring and testing of wild birds and domestic poultry in the EU plays an important role in the detection and protection against exposure and subsequent spread of the virus in poultry across Europe. This may equally minimise the human risk via exposure to infected birds.
 

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