Water birds found dead during the avian influenza season should be reported to the local veterinary authorities.
And vets have a key role in testing farmed water birds, such as ducks and geese, for bird flu as they can easily come into contact with wild birds and then spread the virus.
This can be done by blood analysis of live poultry and testing for viruses in farmed water birds found dead, according to a new report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
EFSA said that migratory wild birds crossing the north-eastern and eastern border of the European Union was the most likely pathway for avian influenza to enter.
Experts assessed the risk of avian influenza entering the EU and reviewed surveillance approaches which comprise monitoring by Member States and the actions they take to minimise its spread. The scientific advice is based on a thorough review of all the information on AI outbreaks that have occurred in recent years.
Arjan Stegeman, chair of EFSA’s working group on avian influenza, said: “This work will enhance the EU’s preparedness for avian influenza outbreaks, just ahead of the peak influenza seasons in autumn and winter.
“It would not have been possible without the close cooperation with Member States affected by this epidemic,” he added.
EFSA added that farmers and poultry keepers should adopt appropriate management measures to increase biosecurity. These include:
• Preventing direct contact between wild birds and poultry – by using nets or keep poultry indoors during the peak influenza season;
• Avoiding the movement of animals between farms.