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Brussels, 6 March 2006

Avian influenza confirmed in two dead swans in Poland: Polish authorities applying precautionary measures

The Polish authorities have informed the European Commission on Sunday 5 March of confirmed cases of high pathogenic avian influenza virus H5 in two dead swans in the city of Torun, north-west of Warsaw. Samples will be sent to the Community Reference Laboratory for avian influenza in Weybridge for further tests to determine if this is the H5N1 virus.

The Polish authorities have informed the European Commission that they are applying the precautionary measures set out in the Commission Decision on certain protection measures in relation to highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild birds in the Community. This Decision was adopted by the Commission on 17 February, following a favourable opinion on 16 February by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. The Decision sets out the measures to be applied in any Member State of the European Union which detects a case of avian influenza H5 in wild birds which is suspected or confirmed to be the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus.

The measures consist of the establishment of a high risk area (a 3 km protection zone) around each of the outbreaks and a surrounding surveillance zone of 10 km (which includes 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 where products have undergone the controls provided for in EU food controls legislation (i.e. meat sourced from healthy animals in registered farms, subject to ante and post mortem checks by vets in the slaughterhouse). In both the protection zone and the 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.

This is the tenth Member State of the EU to report a suspected or confirmed case of avian influenza H5N1 in wild birds in the EU.

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