Monday, February 12, 2007

EU: No Reason to Tighten Bird Flu Rules

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union said Monday it saw no immediate need to tighten its rules for controlling the spread of bird flu, despite reports that an outbreak in eastern England may have been caused by turkeys imported from Hungary.

“We believe that we have strict and comprehensive rules,” said EU health spokesman Philip Tod. “They have been tested many times in the past and have proved robust.”

British authorities are investigating whether an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of the virus among turkeys on an English farm originated in a shipment of dead birds from Hungary, where cases had been detected earlier last month.

A farmers’ union in Britain has called for a ban on imports of raw meat from countries with H5N1.

Such a move would require changes of the EU rules, which currently set up a six-mile zone around infected farms in which the sale of live birds and raw meat is forbidden.

Tod said the EU had “no evidence to suggest that the European rules have not been properly applied” in the British case.

Referring to reports that a British company had exported cooked Turkey products from the infected farm to Hungary, Tod pointed out that cooked meat can be exported because cooking to 158 Fahrenheit kills the virus.

Despite investigations under way in Britain and Hungary, Tod acknowledged the origins of the British outbreak may never be known due to difficulties in assessing whether wild birds or infected imports could have been the source.

“We are not going to speculate about the cause of the infection,” he told reporters.

Although, the strain of H5N1 found in Britain was very similar to that found last month in Hungary, Tod said that did not necessarily indicate a link between the two latest outbreaks. He added that similar strains have been found previously elsewhere in Europe.

Avian influenza story source: AP

Posted by john T. on 02/12 at 01:50 PM
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