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Brussels, 15 March 2006

Avian influenza confirmed in a wild bird in Denmark: Danish authorities applying precautionary measures

The Danish authorities have informed the European Commission this morning of a confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5 in Denmark in a common buzzard (Buteo buteo) found dead during the weekend in an area called Svinø Strand in southern Zealand. This location is close to a nature reserve and situated approximately 90 km from the German island Fehmarn. Samples will be sent to the Community Reference Laboratory for avian influenza in Weybridge for further tests to determine if this is the Asian strain of the H5N1 virus. The Danish authorities have informed the 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. The Decision sets out the measures to be applied in any EU Member State which detects a case of avian influenza H5 in wild birds which is suspected or confirmed to be the Asian strain of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus.

The measures consist of the establishment of a high risk area (a 3 km protection zone) around the location where the wild bird was found 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 control 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 is strengthened, hunting of wild birds is banned and disease awareness of poultry owners and their families is enhanced.

Denmark is the eleventh Member State of the EU to report a suspected or confirmed case of the Asian strain of the avian influenza H5N1 virus in wild birds in the EU.

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