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IP/04/123

Brussels, 28 January 2004

EU suspends imports of Pet Birds from South East Asia

The Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health, representing the Member States, has agreed to a proposal from EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne to suspend imports of pet birds to provide maximum assurance following a detailed discussion with the Member States of the emerging situation in South East Asia. This move is in order to exclude any possible risk for avian influenza virus occurrence in quarantine stations in the Member States. Imports have been suspended from Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, People's Republic of China including the territory of Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam with immediate effect. The birds concerned include exotic tropical birds such as parrots, cockatoos, finches, budgerigars, hawks and falcons.

The importation of birds other than poultry is authorised from all member countries of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) subject to animal health guarantees provided by the country of origin and strict post-import quarantine measures for at least 30 days in the Member States to preventing the possible introduction of poultry diseases into EU poultry flocks (Commission Decision 2000/666/EC). No bird can leave quarantine without an obligatory laboratory testing for avian influenza. However the exceptional disease situation in several Asian countries and the potential serious consequences related to the specific avian influenza virus strains made it necessary to suspend imports of birds as a precautionary measure.

In 2003 about 100.000 ornamental birds mainly psittacines (parrots, cakadoo, budgerigars) have been imported from the countries now blocked, mainly from Pakistan, China and Indonesia.

Background

Avian influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral infection of poultry which depending on the species can cause major losses to the poultry industry. Free-living birds may carry influenza viruses without becoming ill due to a natural resistance. It is known that wild waterfowl present a natural reservoir for these viruses and can be responsible for the primary introduction of infection into domestic poultry. AI is listed by OIE as a list A disease capable of spreading rapidly irrespective of national borders. The disease may have serious socio-economic consequences with disruption of international trade in live poultry and poultry products.

On 23 January, the Commission suspended imports from Thailand of fresh meat of poultry, wild and farmed feathered game, poultry meat preparations and poultry meat products and meat preparations, and of raw material for pet food production and of eggs for human consumption. Imports of these goods are not authorised form any of the other above mentioned countries. (IP/04/95)


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