OIE calls for increased surveillance of avian influenza
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is urging countries to maintain their surveillance efforts and to continue timely reporting of avian influenza, as outbreaks in poultry and wild birds intensify.
Since the beginning of May 2021, outbreaks of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) have been confirmed in more than 40 countries from different regions in poultry and wild birds. In 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, 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.
Avian influenza has a seasonal pattern, with most outbreaks occurring during the winter of the Northern hemisphere. Given the data reported by countries to the World Animal Health Information System (OIE-WAHIS), the seasonal dynamics can be better anticipated: outbreaks usually begin to increase in October, peak in February and continue through April. According to OIE, nearly 16,000 cases of HPAI in domestic and wild birds have already been reported this October, signalling the increased risk of virus circulation.
It is critical that countries notify outbreaks in a timely manner to the OIE, to ensure an accurate monitoring of the evolution and spread of the disease. HPAI cases identified in poultry and non-poultry species, including wildlife are subject to notification. Updated reporting obligations will come into effect from 1 January 2022 onwards. Countries will also be requested to report infections with low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses identified in domestic and captive wild birds and that have proven natural transmission to humans associated with severe health impacts.
For more information see: OIE web portal on avian influenza