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ARCHIVE H5N8 HPAI GLOBAL situation update

24 April 2019, 17:00 hours; Rome

The next update will be issued on 29 May 2019


Information provided herein is current as of the date of issue. Information added or changed since the last H5N8 situation update appears in red. Human cases are depicted in the geographic location of their report. For some cases, exposure may have occurred in one geographic location but reported in another. For cases with unknown onset date, reporting date was used instead. FAO compiles information drawn from multiple national (Ministries of Agriculture or Livestock, Ministries of Health, Provincial Government websites; Centers for Disease Prevention and Control [CDC]) and international sources (World Health Organization [WHO], World Organisation for Animal Health [OIE]) as well as peer-reviewed scientific articles. FAO makes every effort to ensure, but does not guarantee, accuracy, completeness or authenticity of the information. The designation employed and the presentation of material on the map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers.



Situation: H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) 2016 virus in Africa, Asia, Europe and Middle East with pandemic potential.
Confirmed countriesx: Austria*, Belgium*, Bosnia and Herzegovina*,Bulgaria*, Cameroon*, China, Croatia*, Cyprus, the Czech Republic*, Democratic Republic of the Congo*, Denmark*, Egypt*, Finland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, France*, Germany*, Greece*, Hungary*, India*, Iran (Islamic Republic of)*, Iraq*, Ireland, Israel*, Italy*, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea*, Kuwait*, Lithuania, Luxembourg*, Namibia, Nepal*, the Netherlands*, Niger*, Nigeria*, Pakistan, Poland*, Portugal, Romania*, Russian Federation*, Saudi Arabia*, Serbia*, Slovakia*, Slovenia, South Africa*, Spain*, Sweden*, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*, Uganda*, Ukraine* and Zimbabwe*.

Number of human cases: None reported to date.


x Reports of H5N8 HPAI events in Taiwan, Province of China, are not included in this update since the virus belongs to a genetically different strain.

* Countries in which the virus was detected in poultry.

Map 1. H5N8 HPAI events officially reported in Asia, Europe and Africa by onset date

H5N8 HPAI events officially reported in Asia, Europe and Africa by onset date
Click to enlarge - Note: The large map shows confirmed H5N8 HPAI events observed since 01 October 2018; the small map in the insert shows confirmed events observed between 01 October 2017 and 30 September 2018.

Map 2. Global context: H5Nx HPAI events officially reported since 01 October 2018Global context: H5Nx HPAI events officially reported since 01 October 2018
Click to enlarge

Figure. Phylogenetic relationships of A(H5) clade HA genes from WHO’s Vaccine Composition Meeting Report, September 2018 [reference]

H5N8 HPAI events officially reported in Asia, Europe and Africa by onset date
Click to enlarge - There is considerable genetic diversity in viruses of clade The A(H5N8) viruses cluster isolated from the period October 2016 until present has HA gene segments that are phylogenetically distinct from the cluster of viruses isolated in Asia during the period in 2013-2014. Initially, H5N8 viruses have been reported mostly from Anatidae (wild and domestic), but since 2017 outbreak reports in domestic birds such as chicken and turkey have increased H5N8. Recent viruses (e.g. viruses isolated in Bulgaria in 2018) are genetically similar to those isolated since 2016. Additional information: NA subtypes other than N1 are specified. The tree was built from the nucleotide sequences coding for the mature HA1 protein. The scale bar represents the number of substitutions per site. Bootstrap supports of topology are shown above selected nodes. A/Anhui/1/2005 (clade 2.3.4) is used to root the tree. Human viruses are in bold font. The available CVVs are in red. The proposed CVV is indicated by a red dot(•).The viruses tested in haemagglutination inhibition assay are indicated by hashes (#).


For a list of bird species affected by H5N8 HPAI see Update 27/02/2019



 FAO's support to countries

Global level

  • EMPRES news, 27 March 2019: Update on FAO’s H5N8 HPAI assessment for Southern Africa [link]
  • Report of the WHO Vaccine Composition Meeting February 2019 [link]
  • Focus On “2016–2018 Spread of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in sub-Saharan Africa: epidemiological and ecological observations” – August 2018 [link]
  • Risk Assessment in February 2017 addressing H5N8 HPAI in Uganda and the risk of spread to neighbouring countries [link]
  • Press release on H5N8 HPAI in Uganda on 1 February 2017, the first time that HPAI was confirmed in the East Africa region [link]
  • Focus On “Highly Pathogenic H5 Avian Influenza in 2016 and 2017 – Observations and future perspectives” [link]
  • A webinar titled Intercontinental spread of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza – Analysis of the current situation and recommendations for preventive action, targeting national veterinary services and FAO regional and country teams, was conducted by FAO on 24 November 2016 [link]
  • EMPRES Watch, September 2016: H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) of clade detected through surveillance of wild migratory birds in the Tyva Republic, the Russian Federation – potential for international spread [link]
  • EMPRES news, 4 November 2016: H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in Hungary and in the Republic of India H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in Hungary and in the Republic of India [link]

Regional level

  • FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia news, November 2016: Highly pathogenic avian influenza spreading in Europe, South Asia [link]
  • FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia news, September 2016: Emergent Avian Influenza virus detected in surveillance of migratory birds in Russian Federation (FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia news [link]


Recent Publications

Guinat C, Artois J, Bronner A, Guérin JL, Gilbert M, Paul MC. Duck production systems and highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 in France, 2016-2017. Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 16;9(1):6177. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-42607-x. PubMed PMID: 30992486. [reference] This study generated predictive maps for HPAI infection in France and utilised boosted regression tree (BRT) models by combining three datasets: reported outbreaks in poultry, poultry holdings where the virus has not been reported and a set of relevant spatial risk factors, including poultry production and trade, and water bird habitat. Results identified key associations between the 'foie gras' production systems and HPAI H5N8 risk of occurrence and indicate that strengthening surveillance of fattening duck production systems and making the transportation of fattening ducks more secure would be key priority options for HPAI prevention and control.


Andronico A, Courcoul A, Bronner A, Scoizec A, Lebouquin-Leneveu S, Guinat C, Paul MC, Durand B, Cauchemez S. Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 in south-west France 2016-2017: A modeling study of control strategies. Epidemics. 2019 Mar 28. pii: S1755-4365(18)30181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.epidem.2019.03.006. [reference] This study analyzed the spatiotemporal evolution of the 2016-2017 H5N8 epidemic in France and evaluated the impact of control strategies. Findings suggest that farms rearing ducks were on average 2.5 times more infectious and 5.0 times more susceptible to HPAI than farms rearing other avian species. Compared to the strengthening of pre-emptive culling measures enforced by French authorities in February 2017, the authors found that a faster depopulation of diagnosed infected premises would have had a larger impact on the total number of infections. This study showcases the possible contribution of modeling to inform and optimize control strategies during an outbreak.


Božić B, Vučićević I, Polaček V, Vasković N, Petrović T, Pajić M, Aleksić-Kovačević S. Comparative pathological findings in mute swans (Cygnus olor) naturally infected with highly pathogenic Avian influenza viruses H5N1 and H5N8 in Serbia. Vet Ital. 2019 Mar 31;55(1):95-101. doi:10.12834/VetIt.1463.7919.2. [reference] The aim of this study was to compare pathological lesions and viral antigen expression in the organs of mute swans (Cygnus olor) naturally infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza virus subtypes H5N1 and H5N8. The examination was conducted on the carcasses of 22 mute swans which died during the avian influenza outbreaks in Serbia in 2006 and 2016-2017. The findings show that the pancreas was the most affected organ in all examined mute swans. In addition to increased mortality rate, similar pathological findings were detected in mute swans naturally infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses H5N1 and H5N8.


Gharieb R, Mohamed M, Khalil A, Ali A. Influenza A viruses in birds and humans: Prevalence, molecular characterization, zoonotic significance and risk factors' assessment in poultry farms. Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis. 2019 Apr;63:51-57. doi: 10.1016/j.cimid.2019.01.001. Epub 2019 Jan 9. [reference] This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of influenza A viruses in birds and humans residing in the same localities of Sharkia Province, Egypt and the risk factors' assessment in poultry farms. A total of 50 chickens, 25 ducks and 25 wild egrets were sampled, along with 65 people (50 poultry farm workers and 15 hospitalized patients). Avian influenza viruses were only detected in chicken samples (18%) and molecularly confirmed as subtype H5. All the isolated AI H5 viruses were clustered into clade ( and shared a high similarity rate at nucleotides and amino acid levels. In addition, they had a multi-basic amino acid motif (ـــPQGEKRRKKR/GLFـــ) at the H5 gene cleavage site that exhibited point mutations. Chicken breed, movement of workers from one flock to another, lack of utensils' disinfection and the introduction of new birds to the farm were significant risk factors associated with highly pathogenic AI H5 virus infection in poultry farms (p0.05).


Zhang T, Zhao H, Wang J, Han GZ. Wild birds do not harbor higher diversity of  influenza virus internal genes than poultry. Virology. 2019 Apr;530:59-64. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2019.02.003. Epub 2019 Feb 7. [reference] In this study authors assembled a data set of AIV from 75 regions worldwide over 11 years and compared the genetic diversity of wild bird AIV with that of poultry AIV. Findings suggest the genetic diversity of the internal genes of AIV in wild birds is not significantly higher than that in poultry. They propose that the unexpected diversity pattern of AIV internal genes could be explained by the synchronized global sweep of AIV internal genes occurring in the late 1800s and frequent AIV transmission between wild birds and poultry.


Huang ZYX, Xu C, van Langevelde F, Ma Y, Langendoen T, Mundkur T, Si Y, Tian H, Kraus RHS, Gilbert M, Han GZ, Ji X, Prins HHT, de Boer WF. Contrasting effects of host species and phylogenetic diversity on the occurrence of HPAI H5N1 in European wild birds. J Anim Ecol. 2019 Apr 19. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12997. [reference] In this study authors explored the influence of waterbird community composition for determining HPAI H5N1 occurrence in wild birds in a continental-scale study across Europe. In particular, they tested the diversity-disease relationship using both host species diversity and host phylogenetic diversity. The results provide the first demonstration that host community composition-compared with previously identified environmental risk factors-can also effectively explain the spatial pattern of H5N1 occurrence in wild birds.


Recommendations for affected countries and those at risk

Please refer to the Update published on 11 October 2017 for a list of recommendations.