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Brussels, 14 February 2006

Avian influenza H5 confirmed in swans in Austria: authorities applying precautionary measures

The Austrian authorities have informed the European Commission this afternoon of a confirmed case of the H5 avian influenza virus in 2 dead swans found in the region of Stiria, near to the city of Graz. Further tests will now be carried out by the Community Reference Laboratory in Weybridge to determine whether it is the same H5N1 strain which has been found in wild birds in Greece, Italy, and Slovenia over the past week. The Austrian authorities have already assured the Commission that they will immediately apply the same precautionary measures as those already in place in Greece, Italy and Slovenia. The European Commission will adopt today at 18:00 the same Decision for Austria, setting out interim protection measures in relation to cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds in Austria. These include the establishment of a 3km protection zone around the area where the swans were found and a surrounding surveillance zone of 10 km (including the protection zone). In the protection zone, poultry must be kept indoors, movement of poultry is banned except directly to the slaughterhouse, and the dispatch of meat outside the zone is forbidden except under very limited conditions. In both the protection and surveillance zone, on-farm biosecurity measures must be strengthened, hunting of wild birds is banned and disease awareness of poultry owners and their families must be carried out. The avian influenza situation in all affected countries will be reviewed by the Standing Committee on the Food and Chain and Animal Health which meets tomorrow and Thursday.

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