Avian Influenza Still A Concern

According to the Commissioner for Public Health and Consumer Protection, bird flu is now ‘under control in the EU’, but the danger has not vanished even if it no longer tops the headlines.

bird fluMembers of the European Union Agriculture Committee at a meeting last week, heard reassuring news on bird flu, which is "under control in the EU", according to the Commissioner for Public Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou.

Mr. Kyprianou said: "The first wave with affected wild animals has been sorted out. The impact on captive animals was minimal". He stressed however, "This does not imply that we can rest on our laurels". The danger had not vanished even if bird flu no longer topped the headlines.

Decisions had been taken to help the sectors concerned, as consumers’ "rather exaggerated reaction" had led to reduced demand for poultry meat. The situation, he added, was being closely monitored in the EU as well as other parts of the world, such as Indonesia, where cases had recently been confirmed of human infection within a family from the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

However, the Indonesian cases had so far not caused a change in the level of alert, said Mr. Kyprianou. He agreed that the situation in Romania was of concern for the country itself and also posed a threat to the EU. This was the only case on the European continent of a continuously growing outbreak.

Romania had asked for help from the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organisation and had not taken up the EU’s offer of assistance. Mr. Kyprianou said the debate on vaccination was still ongoing.

Financial assistance was earmarked for Africa, where the situation was not as bad as expected and would include training for the authorities. Meanwhile in the UK, Defra is currently reviewing its policy for dealing with the threat of avian influenza during the autumn migratory period.