Emergence and spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) in Europe in 2016-2017.
Circulation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses poses a continuous threat to animal and public health. After the 2005-2006 H5N1 and the 2014-2015 H5N8 epidemics, another H5N8 is currently affecting Europe. Up to August 2017, 1,112 outbreaks in domestic and 955 in wild birds in 30 European countries have been reported, the largest epidemic by a HPAI virus in the continent. Here, the main epidemiological findings are described. While some similarities with previous HPAI virus epidemics were observed, for example in the pattern of emergence, significant differences were also patent, in particular the size and extent of the epidemic. Even though no human infections have been reported to date, the fact that A/H5N8 has affected so far 1,112 domestic holdings, increases the risk of exposure of humans and therefore represents a concern. Understanding the epidemiology of HPAI viruses is essential for the planning future surveillance and control activities.