BELGIUM, Brussels. Belgium is now officially free of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) again.
As the Federal Food Safety Authority (FAVV) in Brussels announced last Wedneday, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) approved the self-declaration submitted at the beginning of the week. The restored disease-free status means that poultry can once again be traded with third countries. Belgium's Minister of Agriculture, David Clarinval, announced that in cooperation with the FAVV Department of International Affairs, he would ensure that the sector regained its export market share.
A "period of increased risk" had been declared in Belgium on 1 November 2020 after the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was detected in wild birds in the Netherlands. Therefore, additional biosecurity measures were taken to contain the spread of the virus. Despite these measures, the virus was also detected in wild birds in Belgium on 13 November 2020. As a result, infections with the highly pathogenic virus of subtype H5 were detected on two professional poultry farms as well as in birds from a bird trader and in flocks of five private poultry farmers. In addition, infection of animals with a low-pathogenic H5 virus subtype occurred on another poultry farm.
The FAVV pointed out that HPAI cases were still being detected in wild birds in Europe. This shows that the virus is still actively circulating in these populations. Therefore, vigilance is still required in Belgium; the general biosecurity measures must continue to be implemented.