Hungarian poultry become latest target for avian flu

Continuing the continent’s worst season for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), seven European countries have recorded new outbreaks of the disease in commercial poultry. Among them is Hungary, where 17 new outbreaks have been confirmed.

Doctor using red pen draw circle on avian influenza
Doctor using red pen draw circle on avian influenza
mashi_naz | Bigstock

Continuing the continent’s worst season for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), seven European countries have recorded new outbreaks of the disease in commercial poultry. Among them is Hungary, where 17 new outbreaks have been confirmed. Also testing positive for the virus have been more captive birds, backyard poultry, and wild birds.

As of November 25, 2,035 HPAI outbreaks have been recorded in commercial poultry flocks across Europe so far this year. This is based on the latest update of the Animal Disease Information System by the European Commission (EC). 

To date, one or more outbreaks have occurred in 23 countries covered by the EC since the start of 2022. 

With just one month of 2022 ahead, this year’s total well exceeds the 1,756 outbreaks registered with the EC by 24 European states for the whole of last year.

Based on information from the EC, mainland France has reported by far the highest number of HPAI outbreaks in poultry to the EC (1,418). Next come Hungary (247), Germany (85), and the Netherlands (79). 

Mandatory housing of poultry extended in the United Kingdom

Since leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom (U.K.) is not covered in the EC report (except for Northern Ireland). 

Across all the devolved nations, the current HPAI season — starting on October 1 — has been characterized by many outbreaks across a wide area, particularly in England. 

As of November 30, the agriculture department, Defra put the numbers of outbreaks over this period at 124 in England, nine in Scotland, three in Wales, and one in Northern Ireland. Since the start of 2022, 220 outbreaks have been confirmed in England alone.

At the start of November, a mandatory housing order came into effect in England. As well as additional biosecurity measures, this meant that all poultry owners had to keep their birds housed. This aimed to prevent transmission of the H5N1 virus from wild birds or other vectors to domestic poultry.

Over the past week, similar restrictions have been introduced by the governing bodies of Northern Ireland and Wales, taking effect from November 28 and December 2, respectively.

Recently, the Scottish farming organization called for the introduction of a mandatory housing order for poultry in Scotland.

All currently active disease outbreak series in Europe have been linked to the H5N1 HPAI virus serotype. 

Further HPAI farm outbreaks in six more European states

Over the past week, the veterinary authority of Hungary has officially registered a further 17 HPAI outbreaks in poultry. This is according to recent notifications to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). Directly impacted through mortality or culling were more than 136,000 birds. Sixteen of the affected premises were in the county of Bacs-Kiskun. The other outbreak was the first in Bekes since mid-June. 

In recent days, French authorities have informed WOAH about a further seven HPAI outbreaks on farms. Starting on November 16-22, the premises were in five regions and involved a total of around 83,000 birds. 

Over the past year, the number of outbreaks in the nation’s poultry has reached 1,448. Total recorded losses of poultry are approaching 16.8 million.

Since the start of the current avian influenza “season” on August 1, the French agriculture ministry has confirmed 81 outbreaks on farms in 23 different departments. 

From the Netherlands, the latest four outbreaks registered with WOAH bring the nation’s total since October of 2021 to 88, involving more than 5.3 million domestic birds.

Over the past week, WOAH has been notified of two further outbreaks in Germany, and one each in Italy and the Republic of Ireland.

Meanwhile, the veterinary authority of Spain has declared to WOAH that the HPAI situation in poultry is “resolved.” Between August and mid-September, poultry tested positive for HPAI at five farms located in the regions of Andalusia, Castille-La Mancha, and Extremadura. Directly affected were around 150,000 poultry. No further cases have been reported since that time. 

Further outbreaks in backyard flocks, captive birds

Over the past few months, the EC has included a separate category for HPAI outbreaks in captive birds. Covering non-commercial poultry flocks, zoos, and similar premises, this year’s total stands at 202 (as of November 25). One or more cases have been confirmed in 18 European countries so far this year.

With a total of 90 so far this year, France leads the region’s nations for this type of outbreak, followed by the Netherlands (47), Germany (17), and Belgium (14). Each of the other nations registering cases in this category in 2022 has registered no more than seven outbreaks. 

Not covered by the EC system, the U.K. has registered one new outbreak in captive birds to WOAH over the past week. This involved a mixed backyard flock of seven birds.

WOAH has also received notifications confirming new cases of HPAI linked to the H5N1 virus serotype in non-commercial poultry at two locations in Italy. 

European states record more cases in wild birds

For the year to November 25, a total of 3,084 HPAI outbreaks in wild birds have been reported to the EC. One or more outbreaks have now been confirmed in 32 European states in 2022. 

Of the total, 1,214 outbreaks have been reported by Germany, followed by the Netherlands (640) and France (283). 

Since November 18, totals have also increased for Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Spain.

For comparison, the EC disease system recorded a total of 2,437 HPAI outbreaks in captive and wild birds in 31 European states during the whole of 2021.

Over the past week, authorities in the U.K. have registered with WOAH 46 further cases of wild birds testing positive for the H5N1 HPAI virus.

View our continuing coverage of the global avian influenza situation.

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