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ISAI 2018: APHA hosts avian influenza symposium

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Avian influenza a global problem logo containing text around the world and a feather across the centre.Ian Brown (Head of Virology at APHA and Director of EU/OIE/FAO International Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza, Newcastle Disease and Swine Influenza) provides an update on this year’s international symposium on avian influenza that took place at the Grand Hotel in Brighton from 15 to 18 April.

The symposium is held every 3 years, currently alternately between the UK and the USA.

Detailed planning for 2018 started over a year ago and with my excellent co-chairs - Dr David Swayne from USDA in America and Professor Thijs Kuiken from the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands and supportive scientific committee members from around the world – it’s safe to say that it met all our expectations with four days of lively scientific debate and discussion.

It enabled a global sharing of experiences and knowledge that will directly influence our approaches for control and prevention around the world to deal with the continuing and increasing threat posed by avian influenza to veterinary public health.

Co-chairs Thijs Kuiken, Ian Brown and David Swayne sitting at a desk lit up by purple lights against a green background.
Co-chairs Thijs Kuiken, Ian Brown and David Swayne

Four day programme

Christine Middlemiss tweet above a picture of herself and Ian Brown standing in front of a sign entitled, 'Avian Influenza in Poultry and Wild Birds' The Tweet reads: UK CVO Christine Middlemiss after opening the 10th International Symposium for Avian Influenza yesterday with our Head of Virology Ian Brown who is #avianinfluenza specialist and Director of international reference lab. Discussion so far is the virus getting even more complex!
The symposium was attended by 315 delegates from 43 countries and brought together scientists, biologists, veterinarians, medics and government regulators to exchange and discuss current scientific information on avian influenza.

The 4 day programme included 82 oral presentations and 116 posters, covering a range of topics of particular relevance to veterinary health, wildlife health and aspects of human health.

Sessions included global updates, surveillance, epidemiology and ecology, transmission and pathobiology, vaccines and vaccination and diagnostic developments.

The conference was officially opened by Christine Middlemiss, Chief Veterinary Officer for the UK, who spoke about bird flu and the risks associated with the disease, what impact it has and the role of the government in preventing bird flu.

Other highlights included presentations on:

  • Factors for infection risk and emerging findings from China relevant to global preparedness
  • New models to study virus biology
  • Advances in technology for faster diagnosis in developing countries
  • New approaches to poultry vaccination
  • Risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAIV) virus endemicity and intercontinental spread
  • Influence of prior low pathogenic avian influenza virus infection (LPAIV) upon HPAI challenge
  • Long term studies in wild birds, such as mute swans
  • Factors affecting spill over from wild birds into poultry
  • Cutting edge technology to trace wild bird migration
Ian Brown standing at a lectern at the front of an audience with four world maps projected on a large screen.
Ian Brown delivering his presentation on Global Reports of Avian Influenza in Asia, Africa and Europe 2015-2018

David Swayne tweet above a photo of himself shaking Ian Brown's hand. The Tweet reads, 'Congratulations to David Swayne from @USDA_ARS who received an award at the International Symposium on #Avianinfluenza for his outstanding veterinary science contributions on AI prevention and control, government organisational leadership and 20 years' service to the symposium.'


Feedback on the symposium has so far been very positive. Thanks go to all the sponsors, speakers and everybody who helped and took part to ensure this event was a success.

  • Boeringer Ingelheim
  • Ceva UK
  • MSD Animal Health
  • Gene Reach
  • Bio Chek Smart Veterinary Diagnostics
  • ID Vet Innovative Diagnostics
  • American Association of Avian Pathologists
  • American College of Poultry Veterinarians
  • OiE Animal Health
  • Offlu
  • EcoHealth,
  • European Union
  • Welsh Government and Defra

ISAI 2021

We now hand the baton back to the USA, who will be organising the 11th symposium in April 2021.

Details to follow..

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