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Brussels, 20 November 2007

Member States vote on foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza measures for UK

At the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health today, Member States voted in favour of a Decision reinforcing the control measures in the UK following 2 confirmed outbreaks of avian influenza on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk in the past weeks. A Commission proposal to further ease the FMD restrictions in the UK was also endorsed. The Cypriot delegation gave an update on the FMD situation in the Republic of Cyprus.

Avian Influenza

Following a second outbreak of avian influenza on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk yesterday, the Standing Committee voted in favour of a Decision defining the risk zones and confirming the control measures in place. The UK authorities informed the Commission yesterday that the highly pathogenic virus had been confirmed on another holding, situated within the protection zone set up after last week's outbreak. The farm had been considered a "dangerous contact" holding, as it was owned by the same company and shared workers with the holding where the outbreak occurred last week. All 9 000 turkeys on the holding have been culled and epidemiological investigations are being carried out to try to determine the source of the outbreaks. Under today's Decision, the protection and surveillance zones which were established last week (see IP/07/1689) have been expanded slightly to incorporate the full 3km and 10km radius areas around the newly affected holding. However, the buffer area around these zones remains the same. In both the protection and surveillance zones, on-farm biosecurity measures have been strengthened and the authorities are ensuring that all poultry owners are fully aware of the procedures to stop the further spread of the virus.

Foot and Mouth Disease

The Standing Committee also agreed today to move more districts in Great Britain to the category of "low risk zone", on account of the favourable disease situation and positive progress on surveillance. There has been no outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK since mid-September, and the prevention and control measures that have been rigorously implemented appear to have been successful in eradicating the virus. Under today's Decision, more areas in Great Britain will be allowed to lift the movement restrictions in place and partake in the trade of meat and meat products from susceptible animals. A high risk zone of about 40km radius surrounding the holdings where the outbreaks occurred remains in place, in which movement restrictions will continue to apply. However, it was agreed today that fresh meat and meat products will now be allowed to be dispatched from the high risk zone, subject to stringent animal health conditions. These include a 21-day pre-slaughter standstill for the animals used to produce the meat, and ante- and post-mortem inspections for possible signs of FMD.

The meat must then be quarantined for 24 hours and can only be dispatched if there was no suspicion of disease in the holding of origin.

At today's meeting, Member States also received an update on the FMD situation in Cyprus. Since the disease was confirmed on the island in early November, eradication and control measures have been implemented by the Cypriot authorities. The situation continues to be monitored closely.
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