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Brussels, 18 May 2006

Avian Influenza: H5N1 virus confirmed in backyard poultry in Denmark; Control measures being applied

The Danish authorities have informed the European Commission this afternoon of a confirmed outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza on a backyard poultry farm on the island of Funen. The farm consists of around 100 birds (laying hens, ducks, geese and peacocks), and is located in the same area in Denmark where cases of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza occurred in wild birds in March (see IP/06/317). Although the measures established following those cases were subsequently lifted, a high level of surveillance was maintained in the area and this enabled the rapid detection of the outbreak in the poultry farm. The occurrence of the virus has been confirmed today by the Danish national laboratory, however, the samples are being sent to the Community Reference Laboratory for further tests.

The Danish 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 have already been killed and destroyed, and rigorous control and monitoring of other holdings in the surrounding area will be applied. A high risk area is being established around the outbreak with a 3 km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone. A further buffer area will also be set up around the high risk area to separate the outbreak area from the non-affected part of the country. The establishment of these zones aims to prevent any further spread of the virus, and to provide reassurance to the consumers, poultry sector and trade partners about the safety of products dispatched.

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 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 Commission will discuss the situation at an extraordinary meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health to be convened tomorrow in the margins of the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVO) meeting in Vienna, and adopt a decision confirming the eradication and control measures being taken by the Danish authorities as outlined above.

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