On the 30th May 2023, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) approved and published the Belgium’s self-declaration to regain its status as free from highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in poultry.
The HPAI free status at the WOAH level was regained on the 24th of March 2023 in accordance with the rules in force of the WOAH, 28 days after the end of the stamping out (i.e. cleaning and disinfection of the last affected establishment) on the 24th of February 2023.
No further outbreaks have occurred in poultry since then, which, together with the other measures and in application of Article 10.4.6 of the Terrestrial Code, allows Belgium to regain its status as free from highly pathogenic avian influenza infection.
Avian Influenza (AI) is a highly contagious viral disease to which all poultry species are susceptible.
Infection of poultry can occur through direct contact with sick animals, or through exposure to contaminated materials. Wild birds may be an important source of contamination as they are often carriers of the virus without being visibly ill.
On November 15th 2021, an 'increased risk period' was declared in Belgium following the detection of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) virus subtype H5N1 in a wild bird on the territory. In the previous weeks, multiple cases of HPAI subtype H5 were also identified in wild birds and poultry in neighbouring countries.
Additional biosecurity measures were therefore taken to protect the Belgian flock from the virus. In 2023, a limited number of HPAI outbreaks occurred in Belgium. The increased risk period is still in force, but the measures were softened on 10 June 2023 due to the more favourable epidemiological situation.
For more details, see “Situation in Belgium”.