Following the unprecedented epizootic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 during autumn/winter 2020/2021, there have now been two reports of HPAI H5 in wild birds in the United Kingdom (UK).
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Three Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) carcasses found on Fair Isle (Shetland, Scotland) have tested positive for HPAIV H5, with one testing positive for HPAIV H5N1.
Another Great Skua carcass was found on the Flannan Isles and also tested positive for HPAI H5N1.
There have been no new cases of HPAI in poultry, or in captive birds, in the UK since March 2021.
In Europe, including France, Poland, Czech Republic and Denmark, cases of HPAI H5N8 have continued to be reported sporadically in poultry.
HPAI H5 findings in wild birds in Europe have greatly decreased since the peak in March, although the virus is still present in wild water birds along the Baltic coasts.
The Netherlands have reported six cases of H5N8 in young Greater White-Fronted Geese (Anser albifrons), found dead in a wetlands area in the Eemdijk region on 3 August 2021.
Germany has reported a further four cases of HPAIV in wild birds since the end of July, although these have not yet been reported by OIE.
All of the German wild bird cases were in the Niedersachsen area in the north-west with three H5N8 and one H5N1.
Further north in Europe, H5 HPAIV has been reported in wild birds in Finland and Norway.
Finland have reported five wild bird cases this week, two H5N8 from mid-July and three H5N1 including a Herring gull (Larus argentatus) from late July.
Also, Norway has reported one H5N8 case in a Northern eider duck (Somateria mollissima) found on 29 July 2021.
There have been no new cases of HPAI H5 in poultry or in captive birds (to 13 August 2021) in Great Britain (GB) since 31 March 2021, and no new cases in poultry in Northern Ireland since 12 January 2021.
There have been two new reports of HPAIV H5 cases found in wild birds in the UK in July 2021; the first involving three Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) carcases found on the Fair Isle (Shetland, Scotland) on 20 July 2021 and the other one Great Skua carcass found on the Flannan Isles on 27 July 2021.
This is the first time HPAI has been reported in Great Skua in the UK during the current (2020/2021) HPAI H5 epizootic, and these Scottish islands represent new locations of infection. ■