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IP/03/695

Brussels, 15 May 2003

Update on avian influenza in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany

The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health met today to discuss again the avian influenza situation in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In the Netherlands, the existing restrictive measures adopted to prevent the spread of the disease and to eradicate it have been extended until 30 May. In Belgium, the restrictive measures will be limited to the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg, from 27 May onwards. In Germany, the measures adopted by the European Commission have been confirmed and extended until 30 May, with some new derogations for transports within Germany.

The Netherlands

To date 252 outbreaks of avian influenza have been confirmed and another 6 holdings are suspected to be contaminated in the Netherlands. In total, approximately 28 million birds have been culled. The last outbreak in a commercial poultry farm dates from 29 April 2003.

The Committee today voted in favour of a Commission proposal to extend until 30 May the existing measures to prevent the spread of the disease and to eradicate it. No live poultry, hatching eggs and fresh, unprocessed poultry manure or litter may be exported to other Member States or third countries and, with some derogations, no live poultry and hatching eggs may be transported within the Netherlands. The derogations apply to hatching eggs, day-old chicks, ready-to-lay pullets and poultry for immediate slaughter.

Belgium

Eight outbreaks have been confirmed in Belgium since 16 April. However, the last outbreak dates from 28 April and no new suspicions have been raised since. The poultry holdings in the established buffer zones have been depopulated and restocking will only start after a waiting period. In total, about 3 million birds have been culled. It can thus be concluded that the disease has been successfully eradicated.

The Committee therefore agreed to limit the existing restrictive measures to the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg from 27 May onwards, provided that no new outbreaks are reported before that date. As a result of this, export of live poultry and hatching eggs from the rest of Belgium can restart as from that date. The restrictions in the two provinces apply until 30 May.

Germany

A single outbreak of avian influenza has been reported on 9 May in the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. The Committee today approved and extended until 30 May the measures adopted by the Commission on 12 May (see IP/03/666). However the transport of poultry for immediate slaughter and day-old chicks for breeding originating from an establishment situated east of the Rhine in North Rhine-Westphalia to other parts of Germany can be authorised under strict conditions.

Germany may also decide to apply vaccination against avian influenza of susceptible birds in zoos and in recognised centres for endangered species in the area west of the Rhine of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The situation and measures with regard avian influenza in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health scheduled for 28 May.


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