Competing interests: In line with EFSA’s policy on declarations of interest, the following working group (WG) experts: Ian Brown, Paolo Mulatti, Krzysztof Smietanka and Christoph Staubach, have declared that they have current involvement in risk assessment activities at national level related to avian influenza, which constitutes a conflict of interest (CoI) with the mandate of the EFSA WG in hand. The CoIs have been waived and the waivers were adopted in accordance with Article 16(5) of the Decision of the Executive Director on Declarations of Interest of 31 July 2017 EFSA/LRA/DEC/02/2014, available at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/corporate_publications/fi…. Pursuant to Article 16(7) of the above mentioned Decision, the concerned experts were allowed to take part in the discussions and in the drafting phase of the EFSA Scientific report on Avian influenza monitoring (Art. 31) - overview October 2016 – August 2017, and have not been allowed to be, or act as, a chairman, a vice-chairman or rapporteur of the WG.
Between 1 September and 15 November 2017, 48 A(H5N8) highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in poultry holdings and 9 H5 HPAI wild bird events were reported within Europe. A second epidemic HPAI A(H5N8) wave started in Italy on the third week of July and is still ongoing on 15 November 2017. The Italian epidemiological investigations indicated that sharing of vehicles, sharing of personnel and close proximity to infected holdings are the more likely sources of secondary spread in a densely populated poultry area. Despite the ongoing human exposures to infected poultry during the outbreaks, no transmission to humans has been identified in the EU. The report includes an update of the list of wild bird target species for passive surveillance activities that is based on reported AI-infected wild birds since 2006. The purpose of this list is to provide information on which bird species to focus in order to achieve the most effective testing of dead birds for detection of H5 HPAI viruses. Monitoring the avian influenza situation in other continents revealed the same risks as in the previous report (October 2016-August 2017): the recent human case of HPAI A(H5N6) in China underlines the continuing threat of this avian influenza virus to human health and possible introduction via migratory wild birds into Europe. Close monitoring is required of the situation in Africa with regards to HPAI of the subtypes A(H5N1) and A(H5N8), given the rapidity of the evolution and the uncertainty on the geographical distribution of these viruses. Interactions between EFSA and member states have taken place to initiate discussions on improving the quality of data collections and to find a step-wise approach to exchange relevant (denominator) data without causing an additional resource burden.