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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 4 April 2001

FMD: Results of the Standing Veterinary Committee

The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) today gave a favourable opinion on European Commission proposals relating to the protective measures against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and the Netherlands. The Committee also agreed on a proposal of the European Commission under what circumstance zoo animals might be vaccinated against FMD. The situation of FMD in some third countries was also reviewed.

Zoo animals

All Member States and the European Commission agreed that all zoological gardens containing endangered species should take the necessary precautions to avoid the possible introduction of foot-and-mouth disease virus. Such measures could include: Closure of animal houses of the susceptible species to the public, prevention of contact and feeding of these animals by the public, disinfection controls at entrance gates. However, the Committee gave a favourable opinion to a proposal of the European Commission authorising each Member State to resort to emergency vaccination of susceptible species in zoos with endangered species listed on the red list laid down by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( http://www.redlist.org). Vaccination shall only take place when an outbreak of FMD has been confirmed within 25 kilometres of a zoo containing endangered species. Competent authorities may extend this vaccination in exceptional circumstances to other animals such as extremely rare breeds or animals used for irreplaceable and important research work.

Member States resorting to such a programme shall present a detailed plan to ensure that other Member States and the Commission are officially informed about all details.

Recourse to any vaccination, even though limited to special categories of animals not primarily concerned by trade, may jeopardise the FMD status of the particular Member States in the relevant international bodies.

In the event that a Member State considers necessary to vaccinate zoo animals, the Commission will take the circumstances into consideration and defend these actions in the relevant international institutions, especially the International Office of Epizootics (OIE) and in relation to any trade restrictions imposed by third countries on EC exports. The SVC and the Commission consider, with the appropriate safeguards, that zoo animals could be vaccinated without jeopardising the animal health status of a country where such animals are kept under appropriate controlled conditions.

United Kingdom

The Committee has prolonged the existing restrictions, applicable until 19 April, for another month (until 18 May). However it has agreed that, if no new outbreaks are reported before 19 April in Northern Ireland, the measures will be limited to Great Britain. The protective measures still in place will be: The prohibition to export from Great Britain live susceptible animals, fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other animal products from those species, unless these products are treated appropriately against the virus.

Ireland

For Ireland, the protective measures applicable until 19 April will expire at that date if no new outbreaks are confirmed and all test results are negative. These measures are: Prohibition to export live susceptible animals from anywhere in Ireland and prohibition to dispatch to other parts of the country, to the other Member States and to third countries fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other animal products from those species from the County of Louth unless these products are treated appropriately against the virus.

France

In France, since yesterday and until 12 April, the prohibition on the dispatch of fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other animal products from susceptible animals only applies to the departments of Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val d'Oise, the area of the second outbreak. The export of live susceptible animals continues to be prohibited from France. The Committee today agreed not to prolong this measure beyond 12 April under the condition that no new outbreaks or positive test results are reported. This means that the EU restrictions will be lifted on 12 April.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the existing protective measures have been prolonged until 25 April. However, the measures applicable in the province of Noord-Brabant will be limited to the two areas of Sprang-Capelle and Mare-Kassel-Herpen. These measures are the prohibition to export live susceptible animals from anywhere in the Netherlands and the prohibition to dispatch to other parts of the country, to the other Member States and to third countries fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other animal products from those species from the provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel, Flevoland and the areas of Sprang-Capelle and Mare-Kassel-Herpen in Noord-Brabant, unless these products are treated appropriately against the virus.

Movement restrictions

Currently animals in the EU (excluding the United Kingdom) can only be moved directly from farm to farm or from one or more farms to the slaughterhouse. The Committee agreed today with a proposal of the European Commission to allow, under strict conditions, the collection of animals in different farms to transport them to another holding. The movement restrictions in the EU have been prolonged from 12 April to 18 May. All movements continue to be conditional on the authorisation of the competent authorities of the place of departure and arrival.

Argentina

The SVC gave a favourable opinion to a draft Commission proposal to prolong the suspension of importation into the EU of fresh meat from all FMD susceptible species from Argentina. Member States shall however accept consignments produced and certified on or before 13 March 2001.

A mission of the EU Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) is scheduled to be carried out in Argentina to review the situation. The suspension will be reviewed within two months, taking into account the findings of this mission and/or information supplied by the competent Argentinean authorities.

Uruguay

After confirmation of FMD in the department of Artigas, Uruguay, in October 2000, the Community banned import of all meat and meat products which were not treated against virus from the department of Artigas following the rules on regionalisation as set out in the international agreements.

The competent authorities of Uruguay have now provided satisfactory guarantees with regard to the measures taken to control the disease in the department of Artigas and a Food and Veterinary Office inspection mission has reported positively that the region of Artigas can be re-authorised for imports into the EU of all meat and meat products.

The Committee today voted in favour of a Commission proposal to re-authorise the export of meat and meat products from the whole country.

Released on 05/04/2001

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