Vaccination for bird flu remains best means of prevention

13 June 2006

Vaccination for bird flu remains best means of prevention

Although it seems for the moment to have blown over, bird flu remains in reality one of the biggest threats to human and animal health in Europe and beyond. It is clear that coordination is needed at European level. “The best method of prevention is and remains the vaccination of animals," said SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard today in a debate on the issue during the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg.

If a gap appears in the measures taken against bird flu anywhere in the EU, it could have exceptionally serious consequences. In fact it would be stupid not to look beyond the European Union, as the virus will hardly take notice of frontiers. Extensive and intensive cooperation with neighbouring countries is therefore an absolute necessity.

Kartika Liotard“The same goes for countries where the virus is already present. The €80m which the EU has made available for support to third countries is in my opinion somewhat inadequate. This is not a matter where we should be looking to economise. It might be an idea, from the point of view of preventing the virus from spreading, to abolish the monthly removal of the parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg and spend the €200m that this would save in combating it!”

Although it is of great importance to be ready for the moment when bird flu breaks out, the same motto applies here as it does to all problems: prevention is better than cure. “I am of the opinion that the best method of prevention remains vaccination of European poultry,” Kartika Liotard continued. “That would not only reduce the chance that the virus will spread, but can moreover prevent the needless slaughter of millions of birds. In the Netherlands we've seen what an outbreak can mean. The social consequences of mass slaughter of animals should not be overlooked, to say nothing of the psychological damage to the affected.”

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