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Brussels, 5 April 2006

Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza confirmed on poultry farm in Germany: German authorities applying EU control measures

The German authorities have informed the European Commission of a confirmed outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 on a poultry farm in Bernsdorf, Saxony, close to Leipzig. The farm consists of 8000 turkeys, 5000 geese and 3300 hens held in separate units. The presence of H5N1 was confirmed by the National Reference Laboratory at noon today. Further tests are now being carried out by the laboratory to confirm whether or not this is the Asian strain of the H5N1 virus, and samples will be sent to the Community Reference Laboratory in Weybridge for further testing.

The German authorities are applying the necessary disease control measures laid down in the Avian Influenza Directive and Decision 2006/135/EC on avian influenza in domestic poultry (see IP/06/180). All birds on the farm will be killed and destroyed over the coming hours, and rigorous control and monitoring of other holdings in the vicinity will be applied. A high risk area is being established (3 km protection zone) around the outbreaks and also 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 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 campaigns for poultry owners and their families must be carried out.

The situation will be discussed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health this afternoon in the light of the information received from the German authorities.

This is the third suspected or confirmed outbreak of H5N1 on a poultry farm in the European Union (following a confirmed outbreak in France in February and a suspected outbreak in Sweden in March).

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