Why have we published the Avian Influenza contingency plan?
The plan's development recognises the importance pf preparedness for responding to any animal disease outbreak and the need for all players - government, industry and operational partners such as the police - to understand their roles. It builds on the existing foot and mouth disease plan (which has also being republished after review).
What is the plan about?
The plan sets out the actions that would take place if avian influenza or Newcastle disease were confirmed in Scotland. It sets out the structures the Scottish Government would put in place to manage the outbreak and the main disease control assumptions that would apply. The plan is about managing the the situation in Scotland and will support the local contingency plans already held by the state veterinary service. The plan operates within the structure provided by the existing EU- approved GB contingency Plan and has been produced within the context of the international obligations associated with disease control.
Does its publication indicate a heightened level or risk?
No - it is part of our general work on making sure that Scotland is able to respond quickly to the occurance of any fast-spreading disease.
What will we do if we find Avian Influenza in wild birds?
The plan is focussed on the response to finding avian disease in the domestic poultry industry or backyard flocks. We would not plan to cull wild birds if avian influenza were detected in one as this would not be practical or proportionate. However, we would work with the industry to further heighten biosecurity amongst domestic poultry and increase even further our surveillance. However, it is important to note that not all types of avian influenza are of concern.
Why don't you vaccinate poultry?
The vaccines that are currently available to protect against avian influenza are inactivated types and need to be delivered by injecting birds individually. It can take up to three weeks for birds to develop protective imunity and some poultry require 2 doses. The difficulties in delivering such a vaccine to a large numbers of birds is huge and render this approach impractical on a large scale. So far, only one vaccine has passed basic tests for safety and efficacy, and is safe to use in the food chain.
Will compensation be paid?
Compensation will be paid for birds compulsorily culled as part of a disease control response.