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Brussels, 5 April 2006

Avian Influenza: several preventive and control measures agreed by Standing Committee

Member States have backed a series of Commission proposals to reinforce EU preventive and control measures with regard to avian influenza, at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH). The Decisions relate to the outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza on a German poultry farm, rules on preventive measures taken with regard to zoo birds and an extension of the import bans for Croatia, Romania and Turkey.


Following confirmation of an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza on a poultry farm in Wermsdorf (Saxony) in Germany, the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health today agreed to a Commission proposal to establish a risk area around the protection (3 km) and surveillance (10 km) zones, as required by Decision 2006/135/EC on avian influenza in poultry. The risk area acts as a buffer zone between the outbreak and the non-affected parts of the Member State or its neighbouring countries. Strict movement restrictions, bio-security measures and controls have to be applied in the risk area, in addition to the measures already foreseen for protection and surveillance zones under EU legislation. The establishment of a risk area help to prevent any further spread of the virus, and aims to provide reassurance to the consumers, poultry sector and trade partners about the safety of products dispatched.

The decision agreed today adds a list of all the German municipalities covered by the protection and surveillance zones and the risk area to the Annex of Decision 2006/135/EC. The protection zone covers Wermsdorf, Stadt Mutzschen, while municipalities in the districts of Muldentalkreis, Kreis Torgau-Oschatz and Kreis Döbeln fall within the surveillance zone or the wider risk area. This list aims to provide legal certainty with regard to the area where the movement restrictions and control measures must be applied, and will enable third country trading partners to regionalise import bans they may impose as a result of the outbreak. The measures in these zones will remain in place until 8 May 2006, subject to review over the coming weeks.

Zoo birds

A draft Commission Decision on measures to prevent the spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in zoo birds was unanimously backed by the Standing Committee today. The Decision, which replaces Decision 2005/74/EC of last October (see IP/05/1326), brings the rules on vaccinating zoo birds into line with the new Avian Influenza Directive. The main change is that any Member State wishing to vaccinate zoo birds must first submit a vaccination plan to the Commission for approval. These plans will be published on the Commission website. Vaccination in a zoo, once undertaken, must be completed as quickly as possible within one week, and must be supervised by an official veterinarian.

Vaccinated zoo birds are required to be individually identifiable, and their movement is subject to certain conditions e.g. vaccinated zoo birds must carry a health certificate if being moved from one zoo to another, and if vaccinated birds are being moved from one

Member State to another, the authorities in the Member State of origin must notify the authorities of the recipient country. The Decision also states that “appropriate and practicable” measures should be carried out in zoos to avoid the introduction of the H5N1 avian influenza virus, for example preventing direct and indirect contact between wild birds and zoo birds. The Decision includes in an Annex the 16 Member States[1] whose vaccination plans for zoo birds have already been approved by the Commission. 

Romania, Turkey and Croatia – import bans extended

The Standing Committee also voted in favour of a Commission proposal to extend the import restrictions already in place for poultry and poultry products from Romania, Turkey and parts of Croatia, from 30 April 2006 to 31 July 2006, subject to review. The import bans are being prolonged due to new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in these three countries since the first outbreaks were reported.

[1] Member States who have submitted zoo bird vaccination plans to the Commission: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic and UK.

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