Food Law News - EU - 2006

Commission Press Release (IP/06/767), 9 June 2006

AVIAN FLU - Avian Influenza: H5 virus confirmed in geese in Hungary

The Hungarian authorities have informed the European Commission of a confirmed outbreak of avian influenza in a domestic flock of geese in Bács-Kiskun, in the south of the country. The tests carried out so far have shown that is a H5 highly pathogenic strain, while it is still to be determined whether or not this is the H5N1 strain. Samples will be sent to the Community Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza in Weybridge for further tests. The flock was situated in a county where cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza occurred in wild birds earlier this year (see IP/06/179). Although the measures applied in response to the wild bird cases had been lifted, a high level of surveillance was maintained in the area, which enabled the rapid detection of the outbreak in the domestic geese.

The Hungarian 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). The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health also adopted a decision confirming the eradication and control measures being taken by the Hungarians, in the margins of a meeting of the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVO) today.

All 2300 geese in the flock were immediately culled upon suspicion of the virus and all poultry, including farmed ducks and geese, in the 1Km radius around the outbreak, are also being culled today. Rigorous control and monitoring of other holdings in the surrounding area is being carried out. A high risk area has been established around the outbreak with a 3 km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone. The whole counties of Bács-Kiskun and Csongrád will become a restricted buffer area around the high risk area to separate the outbreak 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.

If confirmed as an outbreak of H5N1, this would constitute the fifth outbreak of high pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in domestic poultry in a Member State of the European Union (previous outbreaks occurred in domestic poultry in France , Sweden , Germany and Denmark ). Cases of avian influenza H5N1 have occurred in wild birds in thirteen Member States of the EU to date.

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.