Infectious Diseases 2006

Infectious Diseases 2006

EU to decide on avian influenza vaccination

22 February, 2006

The European Union (EU)'s veterinary experts discussed on Tuesday proposals of France and the Netherlands that poultry vaccinations should be used to fight avian influenza.
France and the Netherlands presented plans at a meeting of EU veterinary experts on conducting targeted preventive vaccination campaigns on certain poultry to fight against highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus.
EU experts discussed the technical and scientific details of the plans, which, if go ahead, would be the first vaccination programs against the lethal H5N1 virus in the EU. The discussions will continue Wednesday morning.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said in a press release that it will, on the basis of the experts' discussions, consider the plans and lay down specific conditions that must be met in applying them.
France, has set aside 730 million euro (876 million U.S. dollars) to fight the virus and says it is prepared to vaccinate ducks and geese in the departments of Landes, Loire-Atlantique and Vendee, which are considered to be areas at high risk of avian influenza. The intention is to begin vaccination immediately and continue until April 1 2006, during which time around 900 000 birds are expected to be immunised.
The Dutch plan entails vaccinating hobby poultry and free-range laying hens throughout the whole country. The vaccination will be provided on a voluntary basis, as an alternative to the requirement that these birds be kept indoors.
But the vaccination issue has divided Europe with the European Commission.
EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou has questioned the effectiveness of vaccinations.