European experts to tackle animal disease

A rapid response veterinary expert team is being rolled out by The European Commission to tackle outbreaks of animal disease such as bird flu in Europe or elsewhere.

In a news report it stated an EU panel of national veterinary experts approved the plan, allowing the commission to go ahead and draft a list of team members from across the EU.

Experts will be drawn from the fields of laboratory testing, veterinary, virology, wildlife, risk management and other areas to be ready to move within 24 to 36 hours to affected areas, officials said in the report.

In a statement from the EC a spokesperson said: "The team will be made up of animal health experts who are available at short notice to assist with major outbreaks of certain diseases, such as avian influenza, bluetongue and foot-and-mouth disease.

"When necessary, members of the team will be sent to the affected Member State or third country, to provide technical assistance and to work with local authorities in bringing the disease situation under control."

The spokesperson added that the team would also collaborate closely with experts from international organisations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and International Office of Epizootics (OIE).

According to news reports, EU health commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, said recent and past outbreaks of bird flu, swine fever or foot-and-mouth disease in the 27-nation bloc "highlighted the importance of having well-prepared, well-trained personnel available to provide their expertise in dealing with the problem."

He added: "Time is of the essence when it comes to bringing major outbreaks under control.

"This EU emergency team will enable us to respond quickly and effectively to future animal health crises in the EU, and to offer fast support to third countries in need of assistance."

EU spokesman Philip Tod said in the past the EU had organised ad-hoc veterinary teams to assist EU nations and others to deal with disease outbreaks, the report stated.