The general director of Food and Veterinary Medicine, Susana Pombo, admits that the bird flu outbreaks registered in Portugal may have an effect on exports. This month alone, two outbreaks of avian flu were detected in the country: the first in Palmela, in a chicken farm, and the second in Óbidos, in a turkey farm. The contingency plans were activated, which implied the occurrence of livestock sites and farms around, and the situation was reported to the European Union and the World Organization for Animal Health.
According to the General Directorate of Food and Veterinary Medicine (DGAV), at the first outbreak, all collected in the surrounding area were negative, so if no more cases are found, the outbreak will be considered closed at the end of 30 days since a detection. As for the second outbreak, they are now being collected – more than 900 have already been collected – within a radius of 10 kilometers from the affected turkey farm, which had around 18 thousand animals. All were slaughtered and their breeders compensated.
In statements to TSF, Susana Pombo recognize that the cases bring constraints to commercial relations. “At this moment, that restriction zone, which is foreseen, cannot export, either to another Member State [da União Europeia] or to a third country. There are trade restrictions. What happens is that there are other countries that end up cutting trade relations with our country, regardless of whether it is just the restriction zone, “explains the general director of Food and Veterinary Medicine.” This ends up having substantial collateral damage and commercial damage for agricultural companies.
For now, no other compensation is planned, but Susana Pombo admits that the Ministry of Agriculture may come to create support for producers, if a situation worsens. Even because, he says, the migration of birds to Europe is allowing viral circulation and increasing the risk. In the last week alone, more than 100,000 chickens have died in the Czech Republic from bird flu. In Israel, there were more than 5,000 birds victimized by the disease, leading to the slaughter of hundreds of animals.
“We are at a time of great dissemination, there is a high risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza in our country, similarly to what happens in other Member States [da União Europeia], and therefore it is very important to have active surveillance measures “, so that there is an early detection of whole cases.
The Director General of Food and Veterinary Medicine intern, despite everything, that there is no danger to public health. “So far, there is no reason for concern, since, through food, there is no evidence that there is a risk”.
“Although the vast majority of Member States [da União Europeia] have the disease identified, there are no reported cases in humans so far. There is no reason for a population to be alarmed, “assures Susana Pombo.
“Since the first moment, the Directorate-General for Health has been collaborating with us and, therefore, we are already in the field to be able to identify all situations that may be suspicious at an early stage”, he adds.
At this point, stresses the General Directorate of Food and Veterinary Medicine, the important thing is to protect the creations and prevent new outbreaks. For this, breeders must be vigilant, especially in risky areas (such as near water), maintain the hygiene of the facilities, avoid and ensure that wild birds do not come into contact with domestic birds.
The DGAV also calls for them to be alerted as authorities whenever dead birds are found.