David BYRNE European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Avian Influenza and Imports Declaration at the European Parliament Strasbourg, 10 February 2004
European Commission - SPEECH/04/66 10/02/2004
Other available languages: none
European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection
Avian Influenza and Imports
Declaration at the European Parliament
Strasbourg, 10 February 2004
Avian Influenza has affected poultry populations in nine countries in Asia so far, namely Cambodia, the people's Republic of China including the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. According to a FAO/WHO/OIE expert panel held on 3-4 February in Rome the current epidemic is still evolving and not yet under control.
As of today, the disease has taken 18 human lives in Vietnam and Thailand, but a new virus fully transmittable to humans and capable of spreading from human to human has not yet emerged.
In total Asia has around 40% of the world's poultry population and accounts for 25% of world trade in poultry. 6,664 million birds in the affected countries. Already, the situation is affecting the world's grain and meat markets.
This is a devastating disease in poultry causing very high mortality (up to 95% in 24 hours). Many millions of birds have already died of the disease or have been destroyed in the fight to halt its spread.
In its sanitary and its economical dimension not forgetting the animal welfare aspects, this outbreak of avian influenza is unprecedented and although there is at present no indication of a developing human pandemic, this risk cannot yet be excluded, according to the WHO.
The disease impact is likely to be most felt by small holders and owners of backyard forming their main food supply. It may be more difficult to prevent the disease in these flocks compared to larger commercial units. This has the potential to accelerate trends towards the industrialisation of poultry operations in the affected countries and therefore could have some negative social and environmental consequences.
Clearly, the situation affects the European Community at many levels and the Commission as well as the Member States have taken decisive action:
The Commission hopes that all these measures and activities will be successful to contain and ultimately eradicate the disease and that we can restore normal practices in our trade and other dealings with the countries affected sooner rather than later. The Commission will continue to closely follow the issue, support affected countries in collaboration and co-ordination with the relevant international organizations and the Member States and it will adjust Community measures in proportion to the risks posed by the disease situation.