An early look into the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain (avian flu) recently discovered in Greece has indicated that it’s different from the one in Asia that has been triggering a series of outbreaks in poultry.

The case reported in Greece last week was the first H5N6 outbreak detected outside Asia, and involved backyard poultry in the country’s northwest.

Though the outbreak began on 6 February, it was confirmed by a virologist this week that the virus had mistakenly been reported as H5N8 on 16 February.

According to Ian Brown, MIBiol, PhD, head of virology at the international reference lab at the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Weybridge, a very preliminary analysis based on limited genetic sequences suggests the H5N6 strain is a result of further reassortment involving highly pathogenic H5N8 and endemic Eurasian viruses.

Meanwhile France continues to struggle, with 10 more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreaks reported, one involving backyard birds and nine involving wild birds. Other reports in Europe have been made in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Recently Nepal also reported a highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreak, its first since 2014, followed by a second with backyard birds with both cases found in the Gandaki zone.

Further details about the strain in Greece are expected in due course.