BRUSSELS, Feb 22 (Reuters) European Union animal health experts today approved French and Dutch plans to vaccinate millions of birds against avian influenza as a precaution, the EU executive said.
The programmes are the EU's first preventive vaccination plans against the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu. France and the Netherlands are the bloc's two largest poultry producers.
The Netherlands secured EU approval to vaccinate hobby poultry and free-range chickens, most at risk of contact with wild birds.
Vaccination will be voluntary, as an alternative to the requirement that these birds be kept indoors.
France, the EU's top poultry producer, will vaccinate geese and ducks in three different departments that are considered high-risk areas for bird flu. Last weekend, France said it had found H5N1 in a wild duck in the east of the country.
Reuters SHR GC1828