Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has caused severe illnesses in poultry and in humans. More than 15,000 outbreaks in domestic birds from 2005 to 2018 and 861 human cases from 2003 to 2019 were reported across the world to OIE (Office International des Epizooties) and WHO (World Health Organization), respectively. We reviewed and summarized the spatial and temporal distribution of HPAI outbreaks in South Asia. During January 2006 to June 2019, a total of 1063 H5N1 outbreaks in birds and 12 human cases for H5N1 infection were reported to OIE and WHO, respectively. H5N1 outbreaks were detected more in the winter season than the summer season (RR 5.11, 95% CI: 4.28-6.1). Commercial poultry were three times more likely to be infected with H5N1 than backyard poultry (RR 3.47, 95% CI: 2.99-4.01). The highest number of H5N1 outbreaks was reported in 2008, and the smallest numbers were reported in 2014 and 2015. Multiple subtypes of avian influenza viruses and multiple clades of H5N1 virus were detected. Early detection and reporting of HPAI viruses are needed to control and eliminate HPAI in South Asia.
Keywords: H5N1; Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses; South Asia; human; poultry.