From 1997 to 2001, Italy has been affected by two epidemics of high-pathogenicity avian influenza. The first epidemic was caused by a virus of the H5N2 subtype and was limited to eight premises in backyard and semi-intensive flocks. The prompt identification of the disease was followed by the implementation of European Union (EU) directive 92/40/EEC and resulted in the eradication of infection without serious consequences to the poultry industry. The 1999–00 epidemic was caused by a virus of the H7N1 subtype that originated from the mutation of a low pathogenic virus and resulted instead in a devastating epidemic that affected industrially reared poultry, culminating in the infection of 413 flocks. The description of the epidemics and the result of the control policies are reported.
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