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Brussels, 12 May 2003

Commission adopts control measures to contain possible avian influenza outbreak in Germany

Following a possible outbreak of avian influenza in Germany on 9 May, the Commission adopted a Decision today to reinforce the control measures already put in place by the German authorities. Avian influenza is a highly contagious poultry disease that can cause severe economic damage to the poultry industry.

Suspicion of an outbreak of avian influenza in Schwalmtal, in the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia, close to the Dutch border, arose on 9 May. The German authorities, in co-operation with the Commission services, immediately put in place measures foreseen in Directive 92/40/EC. These measures include a standstill for the transport of live poultry and hatching eggs in North Rhine-Westphalia and a prohibition on dispatching any live poultry or hatching eggs from this Land.

The Commission Decision adopted today reinforces these measures by defining them at the EU level. It specifies that no live poultry, hatching eggs and fresh, unprocessed and non-heat-treated poultry manure or litter may be dispatched from North Rhine-Westphalia to other parts of Germany, other Member States or third countries. They may also not be transported within this Land. In view of the specificity of poultry production, the German veterinary authority may authorise certain derogations from the total standstill of hatching eggs, day-old chicks, ready-to-lay pullets and poultry for immediate slaughter within North Rhine-Westphalia.

To prevent the further spread of the disease, bio-security and hygiene measures including cleaning and disinfection should be reinforced at all levels of poultry and egg production. The German authorities should also ensure that precautionary measures are taken for persons having direct contact with affected poultry.

The measures contained in the Commission Decision are applicable until 16 May. The situation will be reviewed at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health scheduled for 15 May 2003. This meeting includes representatives of the Member States and the Commission. The urgent measures adopted by the Commission could then be updated to take into account the development of the situation.

The Commission will continue to work closely with the German authorities to ensure proper co-ordination within the EU.

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