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Brussels, 15 February 2006

Avian influenza H5N1 in swans in Germany: authorities applying precautionary measures

The German authorities informed the European Commission last night of cases of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in dead wild swans found on the island of Rugen in the Baltic Sea. Samples will be sent to the Community Reference Laboratory in Weybridge for further tests. The German authorities are applying the same precautionary measures as other Member States in which the H5N1 virus has been confirmed in wild birds by Weybridge (Greece, Italy) or in which it is strongly suspected (Slovenia, Austria). The Commission will adopt today a Decision setting out the precautionary measures to be taken in Germany, just as it did for the other affected Member States. The precautionary measures 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 today and tomorrow.

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