Belgium prepares for bird flu threat
17 February 2006, BRUSSELS — The Federal Food Agency has admitted that the chance of an outbreak of bird flu in Belgium is "very real" and will launch a large-scale information campaign next month.
17 February 2006
BRUSSELS — The Federal Food Agency has admitted that the chance of an outbreak of bird flu in Belgium is "very real" and will launch a large-scale information campaign next month.
However, Health Minister Rudy Demotte stressed there was no reason to panic. "Although I don't want to minimalise it — it is really about a veterinary science problem," he said.
He said the focus will be on prevention of an outbreak in the professional poultry sector, where a compulsory lock-up order has applied since October.
And hobby poultry farmers in risk areas will be ordered to keep their birds behind fencing from 1 March. They will no longer be able to feed them outside either.
To avoid the confusion that prevailed last year when the compulsory lock-up order was imposed for the autumn migratory period, the Federal Food Agency has sent detailed maps to communes identifying risk areas.
Agency chief Piet Vanthemsche has also warned that the chance of an outbreak of bird flu in Belgium is "very real".
The federal government is thus increasing its stocks of flu vaccinations. It currently has 500,000 in stock, but plans to have 3 million by the end of the year.
A flu information folder for the public will be available from 27 February in post offices and municipal offices. The folder will outline what measures will apply in case of a bird flu outbreak.
More information in French, Dutch or German can also be found at www.influenza.be. You can also ring 0800 99 777 for more information.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news