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Public Health Aspects, Networking and Training

Developement of New Integrated Strategies for Prevention, Control and Monitoring of Epizootic Poultry Diseases

EC contribution
: € 1 119 404
: 36 months
Starting date
: 01/11/2004
: Avian influenza, epizootic poultry diseases, disease control and prevention, policy and decision making
Project Number
: SSPE-CT-2004-513737


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.

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