Between 8 December 2020 and 23 February 2021, 1,022 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus detections were reported in 25 EU/EEA countries and the UK. Most of the cases (n=592) were related to poultry, the rest – to wild and captive birds. The majority of the detections were reported in France among farmed ducks. In Russia, seven cases of HPAI virus A (H5N8) infection, with little or no symptoms, have been reported in humans among workers in the poultry sector. Six different genotypes were identified to date in Europe and Russia, suggesting a high propensity of these viruses to undergo multiple reassortment events. The possibility remains that new strains will emerge with a greater potential to infect humans, but to date there is no evidence of any mutation known for its zoonotic potential.
Due to the continued presence of HPAI A(H5) viruses in wild birds and the environment, there is still a risk of further spread, mainly in areas with high poultry densities.
The risk of infection related to avian influenza A (H5N8) virus remains very low for the general EU / EEA population and low for people exposed to the virus for occupational reasons.
Five human cases due to A(H5N6) HPAI and 10 cases due to A(H9N2) LPAI viruses have been reported from China. The risk for the general population as well as travel‐related imported human cases is assessed as very lowand the risk for people occupationally exposed people as low.