Published Date: 2005-10-27 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH> Avian influenza - Eurasia (35): Europe, EU update
Archive Number: 20051027.3134
AVIAN INFLUENZA - EURASIA (35): EUROPE, EU UPDATE
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Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2005
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Eurosurveillance weekly release, 27 Oct 2005, Vol 10 (10) [edited]
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus in poultry and
wild birds in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region have
caused widespread public concern due to fears that human cases may ensue,
as has happened in South East Asia .
Part of the concern is the mistaken assumption that the geographical spread
of the H5N1 virus in bird populations signals the start of an influenza
pandemic, even though it does increase the size of the human/animal
interface and the chances of adaptation of an avian virus to a human host.
However, efforts should continue to clarify that the spread of avian
influenza in birds does not constitute an influenza pandemic in humans.
So far no human cases have been detected in the WHO European region, but we
must be prepared for this event. Close collaboration between veterinarian
and human surveillance is of utmost importance to ensure early detection of
possible human cases. For these reasons, the WHO Regional Office for Europe
(WHO EURO) is undertaking a number of actions to monitor the situation.
Outbreaks of avian influenza H5N1 have now been confirmed in 5 countries,
either by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) or national
government agencies in the WHO European region: Croatia, Kazakhstan,
Romania, the Russian Federation and Turkey. In addition to this, avian
influenza H5N1 has been confirmed in an imported parrot in the United
Kingdom. There are now numerous further outbreaks of disease in birds under
investigation in several European countries.
Since the occurrence of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1
virus in migratory birds, the risk of transmission to domestic birds has
increased . Surveillance in wild birds has thus become a priority and
the European Union has made guidelines available . It is likely that
migratory birds are responsible for the introduction of H5N1 in the
European region, as the viruses from outbreaks in Kazakhstan, Romania and
Turkey  are phylogenetically almost identical to the virus that caused
the wild bird die-off at Lake Qinghai in China in May 2005 .
Migratory bird flyways are complex, but indicate that additional
introduction of the H5N1 virus by wild birds into domestic poultry in the
European region may continue .
Between 17 and 20 Oct 2005, a joint WHO/ECDC mission performed a risk
assessment and response evaluation in Romania at the request of the
Romanian authorities. The situation was assessed to be under proper control
following a timely and joint response by the national veterinarian and
public health authorities. The H5N1 virus has been introduced in an area
limited to the Danube delta, and the complete evaluation of this new animal
reservoir requires additional investigations by veterinary and wildlife
services. Measures to control the interface between wild bird and domestic
poultry would have to be long-term and involve a regional approach,
particularly with the countries sharing the Danube delta.
WHO EURO, in collaboration with the European Centre of Disease Prevention
and Control (ECDC), can supply technical assistance to countries
experiencing outbreaks of avian influenza. The avian influenza
epidemiological situation is being closely monitored. On country request,
WHO will give technical assistance to countries regarding influenza,
particularly on surveillance, laboratory capacity and country preparedness
planning. Further to this, in collaboration with the European Commission
(EC) and the ECDC, the 2nd joint EC/ECDC/WHO EURO workshop on pandemic
preparedness was held in Copenhagen this week. The results of this workshop
will be available soon.
Beigel JH, Farrar J, Han AM, Hayden FG, Hyer R, de Jong MD et al. Writing
Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) Consultation on Human
Influenza A/H5. Avian influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans. N Engl J Med.
Chen H, Smith GJ, Zhang SY, Qin K, Wang J, Li KS et al. Avian flu: H5N1
virus outbreak in migratory waterfowl. Nature. 2005; 436:191-2.
European Commission. Guidelines for Member States enhanced surveillance for
avian influenza viruses in wild birds in the European Union - September
2005 to January 2006. Press release MEMO/05/304, 7 Sep 2005.
World Organisation for Animal Health. Highly pathogenic avian influenza in
Romania. OIE follow-up report no. 3. [accessed 27 Oct 2005]
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. H5N1 outbreaks in
2005 and major flyways of migratory birds. Situation on 30 Aug 2005.
[accessed 27 Oct 2005]
[Byline: Caroline Brown (<firstname.lastname@example.org), Olaf Horstick, Fanny Naville,
Guenael Rodier, Bernardus Ganter Communicable Disease Surveillance and
Response Unit, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark]
[The article includes an updated map "Countries affected by avian influenza
H5N1 in birds in the WHO European Region since July 2005". - Mod.AS]