The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a risk assessment in response to the European Commission’s urgent request for scientific advice on the H5N8 avian influenza A virus detected in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Focusing on the role of wild birds as vectors, EFSA plans to release a December 2014 report that will provide risk managers “with independent scientific advice and assistance on animal health and welfare related to avian influenza and any possible food safety issues.” See EFSA News Release, November 26, 2014.
In a related development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has amended an interim rule restricting the importation of live birds and poultry, hatching eggs and poultry products “from regions where any subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is considered to exist.” Effective December 1, 2014, the final rule now permits the importation of HPAI-resistant species, including pigeons and doves, as well as live birds vaccinated against avian influenza as part of approved official programs. Additional details about the interim final rule appear in Issue 379 of this Update. See Federal Register, December 1, 2014.