Europe has been experiencing for more than a year the bird flu epidemic “most devastating” in its history, with around 50 million birds slaughtered on contaminated farms, health authorities said Tuesday.
Between October 2021 and September 2022, “Europe has been hit by the most devastating highly pathogenic avian influenza epidemic,” said a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and from the EU reference laboratory.
In total they were affected 37 European countrieswith more than 2,500 outbreaks detected throughout the continent.
Losses of chickens, ducks or turkeys on affected farms are actually higher, as the balance of 50 million birds slaughtered it does not include preventive operations eventually carried out around the registered outbreaks, the health agency told AFP.
The epidemic has not receded since September, and infections increased as winter approached.
The EFSA stressed that “for the first time” there has been no separation between two epidemic waves, since the virus did not disappear in summer.
This autumn, the epidemic has been more virulent than last year at the same time, with 35% more farms infected.
Between September 10 and December 2, 2022, nearly 400 outbreaks were reported on farms in 18 European countries, with FranceUnited Kingdom and Hungary in the lead.
At the request of the European Commission, EFSA said it was examining “the availability of vaccines” to prevent highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds, and “studying possible vaccination strategies.”