Background Since 2003, Member States (MS) of the European Union (EU) have implemented serosurveillance programmes for low pathogenic notifiable avian influenza (LPNAI) in poultry. To date, there is the need to evaluate the surveillance activity in order to optimize the programme's surveillance design. Objectives To evaluate MS sampling operations [sample size and targeted poultry types (PTs)] and its relation with the probability of detection and to estimate the PTs relative risk (RR) of being infected. Methods Reported data of the surveillance carried out from 2005 to 2007 were analyzed using: (i) descriptive indicators to characterize both MS sampling operations and its relation with the probability of detection and the LPNAI epidemiological situation, and (ii) multivariable methods to estimate each PTs RR of being infected. Results Member States sampling a higher sample size than that recommended by the EU had a significantly higher probability of detection. Poultry types with ducks & geese, game-birds, ratites and "others" had a significant higher RR of being seropositive than chicken categories. The seroprevalence in duck & geese and game-bird holdings appears to be higher than 5%, which is the EU-recommended design prevalence (DP), while in chicken and turkey categories the seroprevalence was considerably lower than 5% and with that there is the risk of missing LPNAI seropositive holdings. Conclusion It is recommended that the European Commission discusses with its MS whether the results of our evaluation calls for refinement of the surveillance characteristics such as sampling frequency, the between-holding DP and MS sampling operation strategies.
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