Competing interests: In line with EFSA’s policy on declarations of interest, the following working group (WG) experts: Adam Brouwer, 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 November 2017 – February 2018, and have not been allowed to be, or act as, a chairman, a vice-chairman or rapporteur of the WG.
Between 16 November 2017 and 15 February 2018, one highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N6) and five HPAI A(H5N8) outbreaks in poultry holdings, two HPAI A(H5N6) outbreaks in captive birds and 22 HPAI A(H5N6) wild bird events were reported within Europe. There is a lower incursion of HPAI A(H5N6) in poultry compared to HPAI A(H5N8). There is no evidence to date that HPAI A(H5N6) viruses circulating in Europe are associated with clades infecting humans. Clinical signs in ducks infected with HPAI A(H5N8) seemed to be decreasing, based on reports from Bulgaria. However, HPAI A(H5N8) is still present in Europe and is widespread in neighbouring areas. The majority of mortality events of wild birds from HPAIV A(H5) in this three-month period involved single birds. This indicates that the investigation of events involving single dead birds of target species is important for comprehensive passive surveillance for HPAI A(H5). Moreover, 20 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) outbreaks were reported in three Member States. The risk of zoonotic transmission to the general public in Europe is considered to be very low. The first human case due to avian influenza A(H7N4) was notified in China underlining the threat that newly emerging avian influenza viruses pose for transmission to humans. Close monitoring is required of the situation in Africa and the Middle East with regards to HPAI A(H5N1) and A(H5N8). Uncontrolled spread of virus and subsequent further genetic evolution in regions geographically connected to Europe may increase uncertainty and risk for further dissemination of virus. The risk of HPAI introduction from Third countries via migratory wild birds to Europe is still considered much lower for wild birds crossing the southern borders compared to birds crossing the north-eastern borders, whereas the introduction via trade is still very to extremely unlikely.