EU tightens control measures in Britain for bird flu 2007-11-21 02:53:52   Print

    BRUSSELS, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) member states decided on Tuesday to reinforce control measures in Britain following two confirmed outbreaks of bird flu in the past weeks.

    At the same time, veterinary experts from member states agreed to further ease controls for the foot-and-mouth disease in Britain.

    Following a second outbreak of bird flu on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk on Monday, the veterinary experts voted to expand the protection and surveillance zones slightly to incorporate the newly affected holding.

    In both the protection and surveillance zones, on-farm bio-security 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.

    The experts decided that the buffer area around these zones remains the same.

    The British authorities on Monday informed the European Commission that bird flu 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.

    On another front, the experts agreed to move more districts in Britain to the category of "low risk zone" for foot-and-mouth disease. It means that animal movement restrictions will be lifted and the trade of meat and meat products from susceptible animals can resume.

    There has been no outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain since mid-September, and the prevention and control measures that have been rigorously implemented appear to have been successful in eradicating the virus, said the commission, the executive body of the EU.

    Under today's decision, a high risk zone of about 40 kilometers radius surrounding the holdings where the outbreaks occurred remains in place, in which movement restrictions will continue to apply.

    However, it was agreed on Tuesday 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 foot-and-mouth disease. 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.

Editor: Yan Liang
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