Developement of New Integrated Strategies for Prevention, Control and Monitoring of Epizootic Poultry Diseases
When highly pathogenic strains of influenza break out in poultry, the consequences can be devastating (around 30 million chickens had to be killed during the avian influenza (AI) outbreak in The Netherlands in 2003). Destruction of infected birds is the primary means of control today but, as the Dutch crisis proves, even such drastic measures cannot totally avoid disaster. Given the global spread of the H5N1 AI subtype, policy makers across Europe are looking at revising their strategies to better prepare for future outbreaks of epizootic diseases in poultry. They want to know how best to avoid infection and, when infections do occur, how best to limit their spread and impact.
HEALTHY POULTRY brings together seven academic institutions from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary to assess current scientific understanding of epizootic AI. Researchers will then use this scientific basis to suggest new strategies for their prevention, control and monitoring. They will analyse different approaches and then provide guidelines for the implementation of these strategies in EU Member States for specific situations at the regional level. The partners will complement their recommendations with a 'risk assessment toolkit'. A geographic information system (GIS) system will allow policy makers to evaluate the possible consequences of different strategies on the health of poultry flocks, the geographical spread of a disease and economic outcomes of particular interventions.
The results of this project will be disseminated through two important groups: a platform of experts and decision-makers (the 'users' of the project results), and representatives of major stakeholders in the poultry business who would be most affected by the implementation of new policies. Close co-operation between these panels and the project research teams could quickly lead to new epizootic disease policies that could circumvent disaster if H5N1 ever gets into poultry stocks.[+] Read More
The European Union aims at assuring a high level of animal health and animal welfare without compromising the functioning of the internal market. Nevertheless, in the last decade, several epizootics of AI occurred throughout the EU. These had a devastating veterinary and economic impact. Moreover, fear amongst the population increased because of a possible impact on human health as well, particularly during the last couple of years. Finally, control of AI currently coincides with severe problems related to socio-ethical issues and animal welfare.
Intensive trade contacts (of animals and poultry products) between Member States pose considerable risks to poultry in the EU once a single Member State is struck by AI. Quite obviously, strategies and measures for prevention and control of AI need improvement to fulfil the EU objectives. Future prevention and control of AI should be more efficient, ethically acceptable and less costly. Self evidently, because of the single market context of EU livestock production, only a comprehensive approach at the level of the EU is likely to be successful. HEALTHY POULTRY aims at addressing these issues.
The primary aim of the project is to provide scientifically-based support to decision makers in the field of epizootic poultry disease prevention and control.
The objectives of the project are:
The results of this project will provide a comprehensive, EU-wide scientific basis for the formulation of future EU policies with regard to prevention and control of epizootic poultry diseases, particularly AI.
The guidelines for implementation of these policies will result in strategies which are more tailor made with regard to specific regional conditions, e.g. with regard to the density of animals and holdings (i.e. herds), organisation and trade and structure of livestock production. In this way, the veterinary impact of epizootic poultry diseases will be reduced. In turn, the financial and economic losses will be largely reduced, as well as the risks for human health.
Implementation of prevention and control strategies which comply more with general public demands on public health, socio-ethical and animal welfare issues will lead to an increase in acceptance by the general public of the EU policies in this respect. In turn, it will improve the livestock sector's 'licence to produce', i.e. its social sustainability.
The delivery of user friendly toolboxes and decision support systems (DSS) will enable epizootic livestock disease decision makers to evaluate strategy options at the earliest moment possible, i.e. during the time of development of ideas.
The primary field of application of the results is policy - and decision - making with regard to prevention and control of epizootic poultry diseases, i.e. avian influenza, particularly at the level of the EU and of Member States. Part of the results will also be valuable for other stakeholders within the poultry production chains, e.g. integrated production chains, animal health services, product boards etc.