Since the season’s first cases of HPAI in France in November of 2021, there have been 1,230 confirmed outbreaks on commercial farms. This is according to the French agriculture ministry (as of April 4). Furthermore, 22 backyard flocks have also tested positive for the virus.

In France, all positive cases have been linked to the H5N1 virus serotype — as is the case in the overwhelming majority of HPAI outbreaks across Europe since the start of the past winter. 

Among the latest outbreaks on commercial farms were first cases in three departments. These were Corrèze and Dordogne in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in the south-west of France, and Finistère in the northwestern region of Brittany. These bring the total departments affected to 20, while the number of regions with confirmed outbreaks remains at eight of the 13 on mainland France. 

Further details on each outbreak are provided in official reports to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). According to the latest notification from the French authorities, the number of poultry directly impacted by HPAI outbreaks has reached more than 12.2 million birds.

Covered by the most recent report are 75 outbreaks, which started in the period March 1-28, and one reported retrospectively from January. Of this total, 64 of the affected farms were in Pays de la Loire — a region in the west of France. Other premises were in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Brittany, and Occitanie (in the south of the country).

At 34, chicken flocks accounted for the majority of outbreaks – including the largest, which involved 190,000 birds. Also affected were 25 farms with ducks, seven with turkeys, six with guinea fowl, and one with each of geese and quails.

During the third week of March, two backyard flocks in France also tested positive for the H5N1 HPAI virus. According to the OIE report, these involved one flock of 15 laying hens in the Pays de la Loire region, and 25 birds of mixed species in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

HPAI situation elsewhere in European poultry flocks

As of April 1, 18 European countries had registered one or more outbreaks in poultry so far this year. This is according to the latest update of the Animal Disease Information System by the European Commission (EC). Up to that date, the system has a total of 1,212  outbreaks for the year.

During the whole of 2021, 1,756 outbreaks in poultry were registered with the EC by 24 European states.

Of the 78 new outbreaks recorded since the previous update on March 26, 74 were in France. With 1,012 outbreaks during the first three months of this year, France accounts for 83% of the region’s total.

With an unchanged total of 31 outbreaks, Spain has registered the next highest total for the year so far.

Registering new outbreaks though the EC system were Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, and Romania.

Germany, Italy, and the U.K. report new outbreaks in poultry

In Germany, the latest notifications to the OIE outline three new outbreaks on poultry farms, all linked to the H5N1 virus serotype. 

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Between March 23 and April 4, HPAI was detected at two turkey farms — one in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and one in Lower Saxony, as well as in breeding geese in Schleswig-Holstein. In total, more than 22,000 poultry were involved. In these outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Italy’s HPAI outbreak total since the start of last winter has risen to  317.

Latest outbreak was in a non-commercial flock in Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region in early April. Affected were around 1,500 birds of various species. For the current outbreak wave, this was a first outbreak in the province of Ravenna, and the nation’s first since March 17. 

Since the start of April, the animal health agency in the United Kingdom (U.K.) has confirmed five new outbreaks of HPAI. Presence of the H5N1 serotype has been confirmed at each location, according to the government’s agriculture department, Defra.

All of these latest outbreaks were in England, bringing its season’s total to 94. In addition, there have been nine outbreaks in Scotland, six in Northern Ireland, five in Wales, and one in the Isle of Man. As well as commercial premises, these totals include backyard flocks, and commercial premises without poultry (such as wildlife rescue centers).

HPAI in Europe’s wild bird populations

For the year to date, HPAI outbreaks in wild birds across Europe reported to the EC animal disease system have reached 1,529 (as of April 1). This represents an increase of 62 compared with the previous update on March 26. Of these, half were reported by Germany, and 22 by the Netherlands. This year, 29 states have already registered one or more cases through the system.

These figures compare with 31 European countries registering a total of 2,437 HPAI outbreaks in wild birds with the EC during 2021.

In 2022 so far, Germany has detected the most outbreaks in wild species (791), followed by the Netherlands (308), and Denmark (80). Also confirming with the EC new outbreaks were Belgium, France, Greece and Spain.

Notifying the OIE about the most new HPAI cases in wild birds in April so far has been Germany (47 cases). Furthermore, reporting between one and three new HPAI virus-positive wild birds were Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Norway, and Sweden. In addition, the Dutch authority has recorded two further outbreaks in hobby pheasant flocks. In Norway, the H5N5 virus serotype has been detected for the first time among the wild population. All other recent cases across Europe have involved the H5N1 virus variant.

In France, six more wild birds have recently tested positive for HPAI, according to the agriculture ministry. Among these were the first cases in the departments of Vendée (Pays de la Loire region), and Aube (Grand Est).

Since the country left the EU, the EC has ceased monitoring the disease situation in Great Britain. However, the animal health agency has registered with the OIE a further 33 cases of HPAI in wild species.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.