EU push for bird flu vaccines

European nations are beginning to push for vaccination against avian influenza (AI) amidst the worst-ever winter for the disease there, according to report in Poultry Network.

The report quoted the French agriculture minister, Julien Denormandie, as saying it was time to consider vaccination as another form of defence, together with biosecurity measures. The minister suggested a Europe-wide position could be found.

France will trial two vaccines as part of a “roadmap” to bring the virus under control and prevent mass culling of poultry every winter.
Vaccination is not a simple answer to controlling avian influenza, which has many strains. It can be difficult to distinguish between vaccinated birds and those that have been infected with the virus.

Many countries, therefore, have a blanket ban on importing poultry meat from countries that choose to vaccinate birds, the publication said.

Free-range egg producers in the Netherlands are also hoping to start trials of an avian influenza vaccine. They are looking for a permanent solution to the problem that when birds are ordered to be housed because of bird flu threats, they by default are declared barn reared, rather than free range, after 16 weeks.

There are fears that the future of free-range eggs is at stake, with free-range likely to be downgraded to barn for a third successive winter in a number of countries, the report stated.

If vaccination is approved in some or all EU countries, that could affect poultry exports, including to South Africa.