Epidemiological Features of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus H5N1 in a Densely Populated Area of Lombardy (Italy) during the Epidemic Season 2021-2022

Viruses. 2022 Aug 26;14(9):1890. doi: 10.3390/v14091890.


In the last two years, there have been three major epidemic seasons in the territory of the European Union and the HPAI epizootic in 2021-2022 is the most severe in recent history. In Italy, the disease was introduced to dense poultry areas with serious economic consequences for the entire sector. In Lombardy, the analysis of the risk factors was carried out, also taking into account the density of domestic birds. In the most affected areas, 66.7% of the outbreaks occurred in the areas with the highest poultry density and the likelihood of an outbreak occurring increased with an increase in the density of birds per km2. In cells 10 × 10 km with a density greater than 10,000 birds/km2, the probability of outbreak occurrence was over 66.7%. The provinces involved in the last epidemic were the same involved in previous epidemics and, given the risk factors present in the area, it is plausible that the risk remains high also for future epidemic seasons. Therefore, to avoid the repetition of similar events, certain control measures shall be strengthened and vaccination considered as a complementary tool for the control of HPAI virus in risk areas.

Keywords: H5N1; avian influenza; densely populated areas; poultry; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Disease Outbreaks / veterinary
  • Epidemics*
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype*
  • Influenza A virus*
  • Influenza in Birds* / epidemiology
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Poultry
  • Seasons

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.