The surge of the global avian influenza epizootic caused by the genotype Z high pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) has posed numerous questions, in particular to risk managers and policy makers. Scientific knowledge is thin on many aspects of the ecology and environmental properties of HPAIVs, in particular H5N1. Virus survival, a key element in control strategies, is an illustration of this paucity of knowledge. Data from the literature on AIV survival are rather limited, often very old and sometimes not confirmed from one study to another or even contradictory. The results obtained with various sub-types of influenza A viruses cannot be extrapolated to the current A(H5N1) viruses before a careful consideration. Further, few information is provided regarding the survival of IVs in the air and surfaces. Meantime, no standardised protocols exist to detect AIVs in waters, in the air or in/on solid matrices. Ideally, the virus detection technique to be used should be sensitive, quantitative, rapid and applicable in routine before or after a standardised sampling method, including or not concentration.
Under this project, 9 institutions directly involved in AIV, of which 3 from Asian countries, have joined forces in order to investigate the prevention and control of influenza outbreaks in animal population at present and at time of restocking. More specific objectives are: 1/ to understand the basis of virus survival from a virological viewpoint; 2/ to understand the impact of physical and chemical elements on virus survival; 3/ to evaluate the role of environmental reservoirs; 4/ to propose standardised protocols for the concentration and detection of AIVs in waters, including waste waters, and in different matrices including food; 5/ to provide a database together with analytical tools to allow the generation of evidence based guidelines for the prevention and control of influenza outbreaks in animal and human populations, especially at times of restocking.