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Avian Flu Update 2 March 2006...
Author: Peter BryantTitle: Avian Flu Update 2 March 2006
Date: 2006-03-02 11:11:23Uploaded by: webmaster
It certainly seems to have been swings and roundabouts in the media concerning AI outbreaks and media hype. After Ken Livingstone’s ill chosen words about pigeons I was telephoned by an irate fancier who heard some disparaging comments about the dead cat incident in Germany dying from eating a pigeon. Following an e mail to the radio station, Ram FM in Derby, the station manager apologised and was to put out an on air apology. I a more than happen to take up the cudgels of complaints you have because we must not let the public think in any shape or form that they are at risk from a loft of pigeons in their neighbourhood. Please do keep me informed of any such written or verbal statements. On 27th February I was warned of comments made on the 5 Live Breakfast show when a regular contributor to the show was lambasting DEFRA for allowing the forthcoming Stafford Bird Show and then added that DEFRA had kowtowed to the pigeon fraternity in allowing racing and shows. I contacted the station, more to say that to have such one sided interviews clearly could not be in the public interest. BBC policy should allow both sides of the argument so that idiots like this contributor cannot feed the public clear biased rubbish without another point of view and facts being put forward. Funny old thing though, no such response from the Beeb. This is not the first time that 5 Live has let us down.

Lofts of people have been asking about vaccination. Whilst I understand that there are vaccines about you should bear in mind the statement from DEFRA from their website on the subject:

There is provision in the Diseases of Poultry (England) Order 2003 for the imposition of a compulsory vaccination zone. There are a number of limitations with vaccination summarized below:
  • The vaccines that are currently available to protect against AI disease are inactivated types and need to be delivered by injecting birds individually. It can take up to three weeks for birds to develop optimum protective immunity and some poultry require two doses. Delivering such a vaccine, as an emergency measure, to large numbers of birds can raise significant logistical difficulties.
  • These vaccines protect against disease but will not protect birds from becoming infected and shedding virus. Although vaccination will reduce the amount of virus shed by birds and hence the viral load, this reduced amount may be still be significant and could cause infection in other birds.
  • Although there are strategies to differentiate vaccinated birds from infected birds, such as the use of distinguishing infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA) strategies and unvaccinated sentinel birds, vaccination may lead to difficulties in identifying birds that are carrying the virus; this can be a problem for control.
  • The emergency use of vaccine requires approval by the EU.
Despite these limitations Defra is urgently considering all aspects of vaccination and the options for using them to control disease. The review is taking account of the vaccination programmes used in other countries. There may be a role for vaccination in the protection of zoological collections of rare breeds or endangered species. Subject to risk assessment on the possible introduction of avian influenza by wild birds, the AI Directive allows birds to be vaccinated subject to Defra submitting a plan to the Commission for its approval.

I did discuss vaccination with DEFRA officials last week and the priority for vaccination is zoological birds (endangered species) for obvious reasons but as you can see from the statement above vaccination is no quick fire solution to combating AI.

DEFRA has also issued its Exotic Animal Disease contingency Plan a tome of some 360 pages. Fortunately the AI chapter is somewhat smaller. The pertinent bits regarding an AI outbreak are:
  • Premises where disease has been confirmed are known as infected premises. (IP). All poultry on IPs will be culled.
  • A 3km protection zone will be placed around the IP. A surveillance zone (SZ) will have a 10km radius.
  • A minimum of 21 days must elapse before an IP, after disinfection, is given approval to restock but the new stock will be subject to monitoring for another 21 days.
  • The SZ will remain in place until a minimum 30 Days has passed from the disinfection of the IP.
It is also worth noting that DEFRA say slaughter will only be justified by the circumstances of the possibility of the disease spreading. Vaccination is not expected to be part of the GB AI strategy. Compensation is payable ‘at 100% of the market value for birds not affected with disease at the time of slaughter’.

We are of course looking at worse case scenario here. DEFRA may well order a lock in of all poultry and other domestic birds before we get to these conditions.

This policy outlined in the DEFRA contingency is the typical policy they enforce following an outbreak of Newcastle Disease or PMV so there is nothing to fear and it does not mean that all birds or poultry in other parts of the country will be affected. It is a localised solution. Please also bear in mind that AI is not an airborne disease as was Foot and Mouth.

If you wish to read the complete document it can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/d...fluenza-contplan.htm

Peter Bryant
General Manager
The Royal Pigeon Racing Association

Coo time for a brew!...Where next?
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