Monday, November 05, 2018

Bulgaria's NVS Imposes Stricter Avian Flu Biosecurity Rules


While avian flu activity has been subdued across most of Europe over the past six months, the same cannot be said for Bulgaria, which continues to see outbreaks of HPAI H5N8 in commercial poultry.
Less than a week ago we saw Bulgaria's BVBH Reports Two More Avian Flu Outbreaks In Haskovo District, with 3 additional outbreaks in October alone (see here, and here).
Nearly 1 million birds (wild and domestic), and more than 1 million eggs (see Bulgaria To Recall 1 Million Eggs Due To HPAI H5N8), have been lost since the beginning of the year - and with cooler weather likely only to increase activity - national authorities are calling for stronger biosecurity measures.

These measures have not gone over well with poultry producers, who gathered today in front of the Sofia headquarters of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, demanding the agency's leaders resign.
While specific grievances - which apparently includes inaction and arbitrary decisions by the NVS - are not entirely clear, you'll find a report in today's Sofia Globe (Row over food safety agency’s tough measures against bird flu in Bulgaria) explaining the protests.
Bulgaria's Food Safety Agency, meanwhile, has issued the following statement, doubling down on biosecurity, following a press conference earlier today on the crisis.

Position of BHAH after a joint press conference with the poultry sector: In order to save the industry, farm bio-security measures must be effectively enforced by all 
Today, on November 5, after the working meetings at the Headquarters of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency with the representatives of the poultry sector and in the context of an organized protest in front of the institution, the Agency again reminds of the dangerous epizootic situation in the country regarding the Influenza on birds.
At a joint press conference, NVS Executive Director Dr. Damyan Iliev announced that bird flu has a major impact on the sector and causes economic losses for farmers and the country as a whole in particularly large proportions. If severe measures are not taken against the disease, however, there will be even more severe consequences for the whole industry and agriculture.

The disease was the cause of stricter measures that need to be strictly enforced and implemented to prevent the spread of the disease. These include farm biosecurity, a higher frequency of laboratory control to demonstrate a lack of infection with the virus and prevention across the country, and the requirement for birds to be transported only after they have been pre-laboratory tested for the presence of the virus.
This was the occasion for a protest in front of the NVS building, organized by representatives of waterfowl farms that insisted on less restrictive measures to control Influenza. In the same sites outbreaks are found, new areas appear in the areas around them, which means that the biosecurity measures on some farms are not effective enough. The BCSA control measures against which he protests have been discussed many times with business representatives and everyone has been consulted with them.

"Not all farmers on the farms strictly fulfill the biosecurity and control measures, which led to the non-acceptance of the disease," said Dr. Iliev. He emphasized that the current anti-Influenza order aims to protect the business, and although the measures are rigorous, this is the only approach to eradicating the disease. BSA and the poultry industry have come together to believe that the current enhanced surveillance order may undergo changes to address the country's epizootic environment. However, Dr. Iliev was categorical that epidemics with populism did not fight.

The highly pathogenic Avian Influenza was registered in 2016 in 21 EU member states, including Bulgaria. Since then, 16 387 853 BGN have been paid for compensation for dead birds and eradication of outbreaks. At present, the outbreaks with the disease in Bulgaria are 22.

BSA and the representatives of the poultry sector united around the need for legislative changes to be beneficial to all affected parties.

In conclusion, the BHA and the poultry industry came to the consensus that the bird flu should be eradicated.

Although Italy reported some scattered HPAI H5N8 outbreaks last spring, for the past 6 months Bulgaria has remained the last bastion of the H5N8 virus in Europe.

Bulgaria's inability to eradicate the virus leaves open the door that migratory birds might carry it to other regions this winter and next spring.

HPAI H5N8 could also be reintroduced in the same manner from Russia, West Africa, or the Middle East, where it continues to circulate in wild birds and in poultry.    
And of course, there is a growing array of other avian flu subtypes making inroads into poultry, and migratory birds, all around the globe. 
All of which makes enhanced biosecurity for poultry flocks the `new normal', even in countries which are not currently experiencing avian flu.  For more on biosecurity here in the United States, you may wish to visit the USDA's:

Biosecurity for Birds

Last Modified: May 14, 2018

Credit USDA

Related Links
Know the Signs of Disease and How to Report Suspected Illness
Campaign Resources and Materials
Biosecurity and Wild Birds
Biosecurity for Pet Birds
Biosecurity Explained – 6 Simple Steps

Raising backyard poultry is a growing trend across the United States. It is very important for all backyard poultry owners to know the signs of two deadly poultry diseases, as well as the basic “biosecurity” steps you can take to protect your birds. APHIS runs the Biosecurity for Birds campaign to help raise awareness among backyard, hobby and pet bird owners.

Biosecurity is the key to keeping your poultry healthy. "Bio" refers to life, and "security" indicates protection. By following good biosecurity practices, you can reduce the chances of an infectious disease being carried to your farm, your backyard, your aviary, or your pet birds, by people, animals, equipment, or vehicles, either accidentally or on purpose.

Biosecurity means:

  • Using common sense practices to protect your poultry and birds from all types of disease agents - viruses, bacteria, funguses, or parasites
  • Doing everything possible to protect your birds from infectious diseases like exotic Newcastle disease (END) and avian influenza (AI) and
  • Preventing disease-causing germs from entering your premises.
By following good biosecurity, you decrease the risk of END and AI on poultry farms; loss of export markets, public concern, and cancellation of poultry shows, auctions, fairs, and exhibits as a result of disease outbreaks; and quarantines resulting in financial losses due to disease outbreaks.
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