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Avian influenza

Specific measures regulate the control and prevention of avian influenza. This Directive contains a complete legal framework that takes into consideration the most recent scientific advances.

ACT

Council Directive 2005/94/EC of 20 December 2005 on Community measures for the control of avian influenza and repealing Directive 92/40/EEC [See Amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

The European Union (EU) lays down measures to control avian influenza as soon as there is any suspicion of the presence of this disease.

The Member States are responsible for:

  • carrying out surveillance programmes intended to detect the virus and increase knowledge in this area;
  • ensuring that the presence of this disease is notified to the competent authority and that epidemiological inquiries take place in accordance with an action plan approved by the Commission.

When an outbreak is suspected, the competent authority opens an epidemiological investigation, places the affected holding under surveillance and implements a series of measures including counting the animals, compiling a list of the animals that are sick, dead or likely to be infected, isolating the holding and carrying out the appropriate disinfection. These measures are withdrawn when the suspicion of the disease is officially ruled out.

Following the epidemiological inquiry, further measures may be taken on the holding.

This Directive provides for specific measures to be taken depending on the type of disease.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)

Once the presence of HPAI is confirmed, the competent authority ensures that the following measures are applied:

  • all poultry and other captive birds are to be killed;
  • all carcasses are to be disposed of under official supervision;
  • poultry hatched from eggs before the application of the initial measures is to be placed under official surveillance;
  • meat of poultry slaughtered and eggs collected before the application of the initial measures are to be identified and disposed of;
  • all substances likely to be contaminated are to undergo the appropriate treatment;
  • manure, slurry, bedding and all materials likely to be contaminated are to be cleaned and disinfected;
  • any movements of animals entering and leaving the holding must take place under supervision;
  • the virus is to be isolated using the most appropriate laboratory procedure.

Additionally, specific measures are to be applied in the zones closest to the holding concerned, known as “protection zone” (within a radius of at least three km around the holding) and “surveillance zone” (within a radius of at least 10 km around the holding). The measures applied in these zones concern - among other things - the census of the holdings, visits by the official veterinarian and the transport of birds, eggs, poultry meat and carcasses. These measures remain in place until completion of the preliminary cleaning operations (at least 21 days afterwards in protection zones and at least 30 days afterwards in surveillance zones).

Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI)

Once the presence of LPAI is confirmed, the competent authority ensures that a series of measures are applied on the basis of the appropriate risk assessment. The measures to be taken vary depending on the criteria laid down, which include, among other things, the species concerned, the number of holdings in the area in question, the location of the slaughterhouses and the biosecurity measures. The measures to be applied are as follows:

  • all poultry present on the holding and all other captive birds to be depopulated. This kind of operation must take place in accordance with the common minimum standards on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing;
  • the disposal of carcasses and hatching eggs must take place under official supervision;
  • hatching eggs collected and poultry hatched from eggs before the application of the initial measures to be placed under official surveillance;
  • table eggs produced on the holding before the depopulation are to be disposed of or transported to a packing centre or an establishment for the manufacture of egg products;
  • any material likely to be contaminated is to be disposed of;
  • manure, slurry, bedding, buildings and all material likely to be contaminated are to be cleaned and disinfected;
  • mammals of domestic species are to be prohibited from entering or leaving the holding;
  • the virus is to be isolated.

Additionally, specific measures are to be applied in the zone closest to the holding concerned, known as the “restricted zone” (within a radius of at least one km around the holding). The measures applied in this zone concern - among other things - censuses and tests on commercial holdings and management of the movements of poultry, other captive birds and eggs. These measures remain in place for a length of time that varies at the discretion of the competent authority.

Spread to other species

Following confirmation of an outbreak of avian influenza on a holding, tests are performed on other mammals that may be infected, specifically pigs. If the results of these tests are positive the authority may order the movement of these pigs to other holdings or to slaughterhouses.

Cleansing, disinfection and repopulation

The Member States shall ensure that anything likely to have been contaminated, including holdings, slaughterhouses, vehicles and other equipment, is cleansed and disinfected. The holding may be repopulated in accordance with the provisions of this Directive 21 days following completion of these operations of cleansing and disinfection.

Diagnostic procedures

A diagnostic manual adopted by Directive 2006/437/EC lays down all the requirements, criteria and procedures to be applied to diagnostic tests and post-mortem clinical examinations (see "related acts"). These operations take place exclusively in authorised national laboratories.

Each Member State designates a laboratory at national level, and then communicates the contact details of their laboratory to the other Member States and to the public. The national laboratories work in cooperation with the Community reference laboratory in Surrey (United Kingdom) which is responsible for the coordination of research in the area of avian influenza.

Vaccination

Generally speaking, vaccination against avian influenza is prohibited, except in cases where emergency or preventive vaccination is required. Vaccination plans are subject to approval by the Commission and the farms involved are placed under strict surveillance. The Directive includes guidelines for the application of these measures and provides for the possibility of setting up vaccine banks.

Committee procedure

The Commission shall be assisted by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in the management of measures related to avian influenza. Among other things, this Committee may take a role in the definition of preventive biosecurity measures.

Background

Specific measures for the control of avian influenza were introduced in Community legislation by Directive 92/40/EEC, which remained in force until 1 July 2007. Recent scientific findings on avian influenza, which led to the production of new tests and vaccines and contributed to the amendment of the health code for terrestrial animals, have resulted in the need for renewal of the legislation.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2005/94/EC

3.2.2006

1.7.2007

OJ L 10 of 14.01.2006

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2008/73/EC

3.9.2008

1.1.2010

OJ L 219 of 14.8.2008

RELATED ACTS

Commission Decision 2007/598/EC of 28 August 2007 concerning measures to prevent the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza to other captive birds kept in zoos and approved bodies, institutes or centres in the Member States [Official Journal L 230 of 1.9.2007].

Commission Decision 2007/118/EC of 16 February 2007 laying down detailed rules in relation to an alternative identification mark pursuant to Council Directive 2002/99/EC [Official Journal L 51 of 20.2.2007].

Commission Decision 2006/415/EC of 14 June 2006 concerning certain protection measures in relation to highly pathogenic avian influenza of subtype H5N1 in wild birds in the Community and repealing Decision 2006/135/EC [Official Journal L 164 of 16.6.2006].

Last updated: 27.01.2011
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