Avian flu: urgent request for scientific advice

EFSA is assessing the current situation on the H5N8 avian influenza A virus in Europe and the world, following an urgent request from the European Commission. Experts are focussing on the possible entry routes of the virus into Europe- in particular on the role of wild birds.

The highly contagious avian influenza virus has recently been detected in three European countries: in a turkey holding in Germany; three chicken holdings in the Netherlands and in a duck breeding holding in the United Kingdom.

The flu viruses found in the EU are similar to one that affected poultry flocks in South Korea earlier this year. To date, there are no recorded cases of humans contracting the H5N8 virus.

EFSA’s role is to provide EU risk managers with independent scientific advice and assistance on animal health and welfare related to avian influenza and any possible food safety issues.

In previous risk assessments EFSA provided information on the risks of influenza viruses entering and spreading amongst poultry in Europe and made recommendations to prevent existing risks. EFSA experts also concluded that there is no scientific evidence that avian influenza can be transmitted to humans through consumption of food.

The scientific report will be delivered in early December 2014.