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Brussels, 7 July 2006

Avian influenza H5N1 confirmed in a wild bird in Spain: authorities applying precautionary measures

The Spanish authorities have informed the European Commission this afternoon that tests have confirmed the presence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 in a wild duck (of the pociceps species), found dead in a wetland in the province of Alava in the Basque Country. Samples will be sent to the Community Reference Laboratory for avian influenza in Weybridge for further tests to determine if this is the H5N1 strain of the virus found in Asia.

The Spanish authorities are applying the precautionary measures set out in Commission Decision 2006/115 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 has a case of suspected or confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus in wild birds.

The measures consist of the establishment of a high risk area (a 3 km protection zone) and a surrounding surveillance zone of 10 km (which includes the protection zone), to be defined taking into account the specific conditions of the wetland. 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.

Spain is the fourteenth EU Member State to report a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in wild birds. The other countries are Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, Slovakia, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic and UK. Avian influenza H5N1 was confirmed in poultry in 5 EU Member States – France, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Hungary.

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