Biosecurity Key to Protect Farms from Bird Flu

As bird flu continues to spread across Europe, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) identified and ranked a set of biosecurity measures that can be implemented in different areas of a farm that are classified as high or low risk.

These measures include preventing contact between wild birds and poultry, indoor housing of birds, and keeping geese and ducks separate from other poultry.

The European Commission asked EFSA for advice on the effectiveness of the current protection measures to prevent further spread of the H5N8 virus.

EFSA wants strict enforcement of high levels of biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of the highly pathogenic strain of the disease into poultry farms. It also recommends the development of biosecurity guidance tailored to the needs of individual farms.

The following are some of the key points in EFSA’s statement: (1) when affected wild birds are detected, monitoring of poultry should be applied to a geographical area defined by the habitat and flight distance of the affected birds; moreover, competent authorities should raise awareness among farmers of biosecurity measures in such areas; (2) passive surveillance – reports of dead birds – is the most effective way to detect the virus in wild birds and poultry; and (3) testing samples from species of wild birds previously not known to be affected by the virus and from areas where the virus has not been reported yet is useful to determine the geographical spread of the virus in wild birds.

EFSA experts will deliver a scientific opinion on avian influenza in 2017. It will assess the risk of different avian influenza viruses entering the European Union from low pathogenic to highly pathogenic.

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