According to data from the EU health authority ECDC, the most recent epidemic of bird flu is the worst such epidemic ever recorded in Europe.
According to a report published on Monday, nearly 2,500 outbreaks were detected in poultry farms during the 2021/2022 season. 48 million animals were killed in the attitudes.
More than 3,500 cases have been identified in wild birds. The geographical extent of the outbreak is also unique and stretches from Svalbard to Portugal and Ukraine. 37 European countries are affected. Almost 190 cases have been registered in animals kept elsewhere, such as in zoos.
According to the ECDC, animal flu viruses can sporadically lead to human infections and illnesses ranging from mild to severe. The viruses have the potential to have a major impact on the health of the population, as examples from the past have shown. Despite the strong spread and despite bird flu infections in mammals, there has been no transmission to humans in the European Economic Area in recent years.
Worldwide there was only a small number without symptoms or with mild courses. Therefore, the risk to the population is low, albeit slightly higher for people occupationally exposed to infected birds.
The EU authority underlined the importance of testing people with respiratory diseases and recent contact with potentially infected animals or unknown origin. It is of utmost importance to detect possible transmissions early.
The head of the national reference laboratory for avian influenza at the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) near Greifswald recently spoke of a completely new quality with regard to bird flu. An infection on the scale of this summer is being observed for the first time, said Timm Harder. Whereas in earlier years the outbreaks were mainly seasonal due to bird migration, they now occur all year round. All of North America is also affected. One could speak of a real pandemic in wild birds, said the expert.