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Meeting on highly pathogenic influenza in Europe - Paris, 27-28 February 2006 (inglés)

Paris , 28 February 2006 – A meeting on highly pathogenic avian influenza in Europe concluded its working sessions today. The meeting was organised by the Regional Commission for Europe of the OIE and was attended by the Chief Veterinary Officers of approximately 50 countries of the European Region as well as of some neighbouring countries.

The experts came together in order to assess the current situation of the spread of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus across the European Region and to define a common approach to the control of the disease.

Considering that the transmission of the H5N1 virus over long distances by migratory birds is possible, it was recognized that the virus was alr eady widespread in several countries of Europe and that t he spread of the infection to domestic poultry in other European and neighbouring countries is highly likely and may be even made worse by the arrival in Europe of possibly infected birds from Africa and the Middle East next spring.

The participants in the meeting agreed that all countries of the world need to control the virus, irrespective of their national economies, as only one defaulting country can seriously endanger the rest of the planet. In this respect, Veterinary Services in all countries of the world are recognized as being on the front line for the design and implementation of the policies relating to the prevention and control of animal diseases.

The meeting urged all Member Countries of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe to endorse the declaration of the Beijing conference related to veterinary measures to be taken for the control of avian influenza and to prepare emergency plans in line with international standards, guidelines and recommendations.

These standards particularly insist upon a sanitary policy based on a chain of command permitting an upward flow of information from the field to the top and instructions from the top to the base while ensuring adequate budgetary resources necessary for the effective application of veterinary legislations at national level.

The meeting also underlined that efficacy of Veterinary Services is particularly linked to compliance with OIE standards and that their capacities be determined by evaluations carried out on a voluntary basis under the auspices of the OIE.

The use of vaccination for the control of the disease has been discussed and considered as an option in specific cases. Only vaccination carried out with an effective monitoring will result in eradication of the disease. Furthermore, the need for an appropriate strategic stock of vaccines directed against the H5N1 strain accompanied by relevant vaccination materials has been pointed out. The vaccines must comply with the quality standards for vaccine production of the OIE.

The meeting concluded with a strong appeal to the European Commission and to the international donors to support eastern European laboratories accelerate the testing procedures needed for the identification of avian influenza in animals.

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