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http://www.guardian.co.uk/birdflu/story/0,,1715492,00.html

EXTRACTS   The cost of vaccination is thought to be around 10p per bird. They may take up to three weeks to gain full immunity, and some would need two shots.

The Dutch programme applies to "hobby poultry" and free-range laying hens throughout the country - up to eight million birds in total.

Patrick Holden, of the Soil Association, said every available method should be used to fight the virus. He called for a change of policy after it emerged that the UK had no stocks of the vaccine and was not planning to order any.

"Urgent action is needed, given the potential for an imminent outbreak and the fact that it will take at least three months to produce sufficient stocks of vaccine," he said.

Lawrence Woodward, a director of Elm Farm Reseach Centre, a 237-acre organic farm in Berkshire, said consumers were prepared to buy organic produce from vaccinated animals.

"We believe organic consumers prefer to have birds outdoors and vaccinated rather than inside in stressful conditions," he said.


Bird flu vaccination in France and Netherlands approved

James Sturcke and agencies
Wednesday February 22, 2006


Leading European veterinary officials today agreed to allow France and the Netherlands to vaccinate their flocks against bird flu.

An EU official said the permission, from the standing committee, was "country-specific".

The definition means any other EU country that later decided to try to counter bird flu with vaccination would need to apply separately for the necessary European approval.

There has been considerable resistance to vaccination from other EU member countries.

They believe it is too costly, could mask the symptoms of bird flu and therefore contribute to the spread of the disease, and may also affect the poultry export status of the entire 25-country bloc.

 

Germany, Austria, Denmark and Portugal vigorously opposed the move, and Britain voiced concerns that no specific vaccine to tackle the deadly H5N1 strain of the current disease was yet available.

"Recent cases of avian flu in wild birds in the EU have compounded the need to explore every possible option to protect our poultry from this virus," Markos Kyprianou, the EU commissioner for health, said.

"Targeted preventive vaccination ... can be an effective tool when coupled with the rigorous preventive measures already in place in the EU."

The French programme approved today means the vaccination of around 900,000 ducks and geese in the departments of Landes, Loire-Atlantique and Vendee - now considered high-risk areas - will begin immediately and will run until April 1.

"Vaccination was deemed necessary for the ducks and geese in these regions due to the fact that these birds cannot be easily put indoors ... therefore their effective separation from potentially infected wild birds cannot be assured," the commission said in a statement.

The Dutch programme applies to "hobby poultry" and free-range laying hens throughout the country - up to eight million birds in total.

Earlier, Philip Tod, the EU's animal health protection spokesman, told the BBC's Farming Today programme that member states were worried about the potential implications for trade.

He said it was "untested how third countries [non-EU] would react to EU members seeking to export vaccinated poultry and meat".

Mr Tod admitted that trade competition between EU countries had been a feature of the discussions, but added: "So far, we have managed to stick together."

Elsewhere, a British organic farming organisation today called for poultry to be vaccinated and criticised the government for failing to stockpile treatments.

Patrick Holden, of the Soil Association, said every available method should be used to fight the virus. He called for a change of policy after it emerged that the UK had no stocks of the vaccine and was not planning to order any.

"Urgent action is needed, given the potential for an imminent outbreak and the fact that it will take at least three months to produce sufficient stocks of vaccine," he said.

Lawrence Woodward, a director of Elm Farm Reseach Centre, a 237-acre organic farm in Berkshire, said consumers were prepared to buy organic produce from vaccinated animals.

"We believe organic consumers prefer to have birds outdoors and vaccinated rather than inside in stressful conditions," he said.

A government spokesman said vaccination was being kept "under urgent review", but added: "We remain to be convinced that it is the right solution."

Government officials currently advocate the use of vaccines only for zoological collections and rare or endangered birds.

The cost of vaccination is thought to be around 10p per bird. They may take up to three weeks to gain full immunity, and some would need two shots.

Meanwhile, another person died from bird flu in Asia today as the World Health Organisation expressed concern over the unprecedented spread of the disease in recent weeks.

Indonesian authorities said a 27-year-old woman had died after being infected in the capital, Jakarta.

The news came as officials in Malaysia confirmed that seven people were receiving hospital treatment for the disease after reporting a fresh outbreak two days ago. Malaysia had been free of bird flu for more than a year.

The WHO confirmed that 13 countries had discovered their first bird flu cases in the past three weeks.

"We've never seen so many outbreaks of the same virus in so many different regions," Maria Cheng, a World Health Organisation spokeswoman, said.

"Our concern obviously is that humans could potentially come into contact with birds infected with H5N1, which would mean populations worldwide are potentially at risk."

The countries that have discovered bird flu since the beginning of February are Iraq, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Iran, Austria, Germany, Egypt, India and France, the WHO said.

Joseph Domenech, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation chief veterinary officer, said the H5N1 avian influenza virus was continuing to spread in poultry in Nigeria and could cause a regional disaster.

"There is ample evidence that the Nigerian bird flu situation is difficult and worrisome," he said. "The movement and trade of poultry have strongly contributed to the further spread of the virus."

He said the FAO was now advising the Nigerian government to "prepare for a targeted vaccination campaign" and that culling and the application of biosecurity measures alone might not stop the spread of the virus.

More than 90 people and millions of poultry have died since the latest outbreak of H5N1 bird flu began in 2003.