The O.I.E (Office International des Epizooties, the World Organisation for Animal Health) has classified HPAI as a "list A" disease, signifying a rapidly spreading animal disease of major economic importance, such as foot and mouth disease or classical swine fever.
EU legislation to control avian influenza is laid down in Directive 92/40/EEC . All suspected cases of AI must be investigated and appropriate measures taken in case of confirmation of HPAI. To limit the spread, infected poultry must be killed in a humane way and disposed off safely. Feeding stuffs, contaminated equipment and manure must be destroyed or treated to inactivate the virus.
To prevent further spread of disease the veterinary authorities are required to immediately put in place movement restrictions on the affected holdings and on all farms in a radius of at least 10-km around these holdings, the so called surveillance zone. If necessary, stamping-out measures can also be extended to poultry farms in the vicinity of or which have had dangerous contacts with infected farms.
In accordance with Community legislation, all Member States have AI contingency plans in place to ensure that the most appropriate measures are immediately implemented.
At farm level preventive hygienic measures such as cleaning and disinfection are crucial. Disease awareness amongst farmers and cooperation by all people in the poultry sector must ensure that the strictest biosecurity measures are applied to prevent disease spread.
In accordance with Directive 92/40/EEC vaccination against AI may be used to supplement the control measures carried out after confirmation of disease. Birds vaccinated against the HA subtype corresponding to the one which is circulating are protected against the worst effects of AI.
Vaccination against AI is currently being applied in some regions of Italy, pursuant to Commission Decision 2004/666/EC as last ammended by Commisssion Decision 2005/10/EC.