Avian Influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral disease to which all poultry species are susceptible.
Infection of poultry can occur through direct contact with sick animals, or through exposure to contaminated materials. Wild birds may be an important source of contamination as they are often carriers of the virus without being visibly ill.
On 15 November 2021 , an 'increased risk period' was declared in Belgium following the detection of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) virus subtype H5N1 in a wild bird on the territory. In the previous weeks, multiple cases of HPAI subtype H5 were also identified in wild birds and poultry in neighbouring countries.
Additional biosecurity measures were therefore taken to protect the Belgium flock from the virus. Despite these measures, HPAI outbreaks occurred also on Belgian territory in 2021 and in 2022. The increased risk period is still in force. Due to the more favourable epidemiological situation measures were softened on 14 May 2022. But with the return of migratory birds to Europe and the increasing number of outbreaks in wild birds and poultry in Belgium, the measures were strengthened again on 5 October 2022.
For more details, see “Situation in Belgium”.