BRUSSELS, Belgium: The European Union's Food Safety Agency said that with nearly 50 million poultry being culled this year, Europe is experiencing its worst bird flu crisis, raising the risk of widespread infections next season.
Due to the damage bird flu causes to flocks, the possibility of trade restrictions and the risk of human transmission, the spread of bird flu, a highly pathogenic avian influenza, has concerned governments and the poultry industry.
According to a joint overview by the Food Safety Agency, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the EU reference laboratory, this summer there have been many recorded bird flu outbreaks in both wild and domestic birds, causing massive mortality among sea birds along the north Atlantic coast.
In a statement issued this week, Guilhem de Seze, a senior official at the Food Safety Agency, said, "As autumn migration begins and the number of wild birds wintering in Europe increases, they are likely at higher risk of HPAI infection than previous years, due to the observed persistence of the virus in Europe."
The Food Safety Agency said that this season's epidemic has affected 37 European countries, the highest number on record, and the virus crossed the Atlantic for the first time, causing a severe epidemic in several Canadian provinces and U.S. States.
With 2,467 outbreaks reported in poultry and 47.7 million birds culled, this season's bird flu crisis is the worst ever seen in Europe, it added.