Situation in Belgium

HPAI free status OIE for Belgium regained on the 29th  of April 2021 and approved and published by the OIE on the 16th of August 2021.

  • OIE official attestation: self-declaration "HPAI free status for Belgium" (09/07/2021, approved by the OIE 16/08/2021)                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Attestation of the CVO EN - FR (22/11/2021)

 

The following facts can be highlighted:

  • As of 29 April 2021, i.e. three months after the end of the stamping out (i.e. cleaning and disinfection of the last affected establishment) on 29 January 2021, no further outbreaks have occurred in poultry, which, together with the other measures and in application of Article 10.4.6. of the Terrestrial Code, allows Belgium to regain its high pathogenicity avian influenza infection-free status.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  • Before the two outbreaks of HPAI in poultry in November 2020 and January 2021 and the outbreak of LPAI in poultry in December 2020, Belgium had been free of HPAI in poultry for 3 years and LPAI for 11 years.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  • Strict control and eradication measures were adopted, including total culling of birds and cleaning and disinfection of all affected holdings, in accordance with OIE requirements. An ongoing awareness program is put in place to encourage reporting of suspected highly pathogenic avian influenza.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Surveillance has been carried out in accordance with Articles 10.4.26. to 10.4.30. of the OIE Terrestrial Code.

Poultry

On the 29th of  January 2021, a new outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza type H5N8 was detected in a poultry farm in Deerlijk (West Flanders). As a result, restriction zones - a 3 km protection zone and a 10 km surveillance zone - have been established around this outbreak.

In November and December 2020, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza type H5N5 and an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza type H5 had been reported in Menen and Diksmuide, respectively.

The appropriate control measures, as described under the chapter “Measures” have been effectively put in place enabling to lift the delimited restriction zones in the meantime:

Outbreak

Viral strain

Zones

Date of delimitation

Date of lifting

Menen

H5N5
(high pathogenic)

Protection zone (3 km)

Surveillance zone (10 km)

26/11/2020

26/11/2020

17/12/2020

26/12/2020

Diksmuide

H5Nx
(low pathogenic)

Temporary buffer zone (1 km)

17/12/2020

07/01/2021

Deerlijk

H5N8
(high pathogenic)

Protection zone (3km)

Surveillance zone (10km)

29/01/2021

29/01/2021

19/02/2021

28/02/2021

Captive birds

Since the 26th  of November 2020, 9 outbreaks  of highly pathogenic avian influenza type H5N8 in captive birds were confirmed.

Restriction zones were implemented around the cases. Control measures were put in place allowing for the restriction zones to be lifted.

Outbreaks of HPAI in captive birds:

Outbreak

Viral strain

Zones

Date of delimitation

Date of lifting

Dinant

H5Nx
(high pathogenic)

Temporary buffer zone (500 m)

08/12/2020

07/01/2021

Deerlijk

H5N8
(high pathogenic)

Temporary buffer zone (1km)

17/12/2020

07/01/2021

Silly

H5N8
(high pathogenic)

Temporary buffer zone

16/04/2021

10/05/2021

Waregem

H5N8
(high pathogenic)

Protection zone (3 km)

Surveillance zone (10 km)

23/04/2021

23/04/2021

14/05/2021

23/05/2021

Le Roeulx

H5N8
(high pathogenic)

Temporary buffer zone

Protection zone (3 km)

Surveillance zone (10 km)

10/06/2021

20/06/2021

10/06/2021

10/07/2021

10/07/2021

10/07/2021

Moerzeke H5N8
(high pathogenic)

Temporary buffer zone (500 m)

Protection zone (3 km)

Surveillance zone (10 km)

06/07/2021

06/07/2021

06/07/2021

15/08/2021

15/08/2021

15/08/2021

Menen

H5N8
(high pathogenic)

Protection zone (3 km)

Surveillance zone (10 km)

02/09/2021

02/09/2021

23/09/2021

02/10/2021

Chiny

H5N8
(high pathogenic)

NA*    
Arlons H5N8
(high pathogenic)
NA*    

* a derogation from the implementation of restriction zones was applied in line with the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/687 of 17 December 2019 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of the European Parliament and the Council, as regards rules for the prevention and control of certain listed diseases.  

Wild birds

Since November 13, 2020, several cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza type H5N8 have been observed in wild birds in different locations. The last case dates from the 11th of November 2021.

    Measures

    Since November 1st, 2020, due to the current European situation, the biosecurity measures have been reinforced as to  avoid the introduction of the virus into the poultry establishments:

    • mandatory confinement of poultry in the buildings or use of special infrastructure to avoid contact with wild birds
    • mandatory indoors feeding and watering
    • prohibition on the use of water from surface water reservoirs or rainwater accessible to wild birds unless the water is treated to ensure inactivation of potential viruses

    Since the 15th of November 2020,the following measures are applicable throughout Belgium:

    • All poultry and birds, including pigeons, from poultry farms and private keepers must be confined or protected in such a way as to avoid contact with wild birds. This measure does not apply to ratites.
    • Feeding and watering of poultry and other captive birds must be done indoors or in such a way as to make contact with wild birds impossible.
    • Watering of poultry and other captive birds with water from surface water tanks or rainwater accessible to wild birds is prohibited unless such water is treated to ensure inactivation of possible viruses.
    • All gatherings (exhibitions, contests, markets) of poultry and birds are prohibited, both for professionals and individuals, except for the hobby poultry non – commercial gatherings.
      The following measures apply for the non-commercial gatherings of hobby poultry:
      • The organizer of the gathering shall register with the appropriate AFSCA Local Control Unite at least 48 hours before the start of the event;
      • The organizer of the gathering  keeps a list of the names and addresses of all keepers who
      • Who participate to the gathering  with their animals. This list must be kept at the disposal of the FASFC for at least 2 months;
      • The gathering  is placed under the official supervision of an approved veterinarian appointed by the organizer of the gathering.
      • The organizer communicates the name of the appointed approved veterinarian to the Local Control Unit concerned before the start of the gathering.

    Surveillance programmes

    Since 2004 several surveillance programmes have been implemented by the FASFC in order to detect any possible introduction of avian influenza:

    Official surveillance programmes in poultry

    • A serological screening: with the aim of determining the prevalence of avian influenza viruses of subtypes H5 and H7 in poultry on poultry farms. Blood samples are taken on poultry farms with more than 200 poultry birds (excluding broiler farms) once a year. A second sampling is carried out during the year on farms located in sensitive nature areas, free range farms and all turkey, goose and duck farms.
    • A passive monitoring: in which all cases of abnormal disease or mortality in poultry and all cases of a significant drop in egg laying, or sharply reduced feed and water intake, are examined by the farm veterinarian. If the veterinarian cannot rule out the possibility of infection with the avian influenza virus, no therapeutic treatment may be initiated before samples or carcasses have been submitted to an approved laboratory for autopsy and additional examination.

    Official surveillance programmes in wild birds

    • An active monitoring: in which cloacal or tracheal swabs are taken from wild birds and examined. Sampling shall take place at the same time as the ringing activities carried out by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) around the country, and to a lesser extent by hunters during the hunting season for water game.
    • A passive monitoring: in which suspicious mortality among wild birds is investigated. In addition, dead birds that meet a number of criteria in terms of species and numbers shall be transferred to the laboratory for analysis. All samples are examined by the national reference laboratory for avian influenza Sciensano. The most recent information on outbreaks can be found at the WAHID-interface on the OIE-website.
    Last updated: 22/11/2021