German authorities culled around 30,000 chickens this week in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein as it tried to control the spread of the H5N8 avian influenza (AI) strain.
Speaking at the EU Agriculture Council in Brussels this week, Germany’s federal agriculture minister Christian Schmidt said the country was working hard to control the pathogenic virus.
“We take the spread of avian influenza in Germany very seriously,” he said. “Poultry flocks have now also been affected. I therefore convened the Central Animal Disease Crisis Unit on Saturday.
“The representatives from the Federal Government and the Länder [federal states in Germany] agreed in the crisis unit to take harmonised, risk-oriented action against avian influenza.”
Poultry goes indoors
Schmidt added that the country’s disease crisis unit had agreed to take specific steps to address the virus: the Länder will order poultry to be moved indoors in regions where the likelihood of introducing the virus is high; secondly, a government task force will liaise with the Länder to coordinate and agree on a harmonised set of measures for the areas at risk; and finally, hygiene and biosecurity measures in the poultry farms will be increased nationwide.
“We are observing the situation closely,” added Schmidt, who said all parties would discuss the situation as it developed.
“Today, I will put the subject of avian influenza on the agenda here in Brussels. I will coordinate with my European colleagues – and above all with our direct neighbours – in this matter.
“As you can see, we are working on this topic at both national and European level.”
So far, Austria, Germany Switzerland, Hungary, Poland the Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia have reported outbreaks of the H5N8 AI strain. It has also been reported in Israel.