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Brussels, 13 February 2006

Avian Influenza: Highly pathogenic H5N1 virus confirmed in Bulgaria

The European Commission has been informed today that test results from the EU Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza in Weybridge confirm that the recent case of avian influenza in wild swans in Bulgaria was caused by the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. The disease was detected in wild swans in the Bulgarian wetland region of Vidin, close to the Romanian border, last week. The Bulgarian authorities have also informed the Commission of other suspected cases in wetlands close to the Black sea. The Commission is preparing a decision banning imports of live poultry and birds, wild feathered game meat and meat products, eggs and unprocessed feathers from the affected areas in Bulgaria, and this decision is expected to be endorsed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) on 16 February. Currently, no Bulgarian poultry or poultry products can be imported into the EU, as restrictive measures are already in place due to recent Newcastle disease outbreaks in Bulgaria. However, as the Newcastle Disease restrictions are expected to be reviewed and possibly eased in the near future, it is necessary to also adopt this regionalised import ban for the areas affected with avian influenza.

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