Farmers demand action on bird flu fears
15 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Initial tests have indicated that 30 ducks found dead in Lebbeke in Limburg were not infected with the avian bird flu virus.
15 February 2006
BRUSSELS — Initial tests have indicated that 30 ducks found dead in Lebbeke in Limburg were not infected with the avian bird flu virus.
The bird corpses were taken to a laboratory on Tuesday, but initial results have ruled out fears the ducks were infected with the avian virus.
However, the municipal council had already taken precautionary measures, closing the popular nature reserve to hikers and other visitors.
Police are patrolling the area and signs have been erected informing the public that the reserve is closed.
Meanwhile, poultry farmers have urged the government to impose an accelerated compulsory lock-up order amid increasing reports of bird flu outbreaks within the EU.
Germany is the latest country to confirm an outbreak of bird flu, revealing on Tuesday that two dead swans were infected with the dangerous H5N1 strain.
The outbreak in Germany follows confirmed cases in Greece, Italy and Austria and the EU will meet later this week to discuss imposing a compulsory lock-up order on poultry.
Belgium's neighbours have already imposed accelerated measures, but the federal government has decided to wait 10 days before making a decision.
The nation's anti-bird flu measures might also be downgraded from a lock-up order to one in which poultry may be allowed outside, but screened off from wild, migratory birds.
The Federal Food Agency said Belgium's neighbours have reacted with panic and will wait until 1 March before imposing the new measures.
However, almost every professional poultry farmer wants the government to impose an accelerated lock-up order and is opposed to less stringent measures.
A compulsory lock-up order is difficult for police to supervise though and has been subject to widespread public criticism.
Some hobby farmers were forced to kill their birds last year because they did not have enough shed room to keep their poultry indoors all the time.
It is also being speculated that as local council elections loom in October, many mayors are not keen to fine hobby farmers for failing to meet the lock-up orders.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news