by Joan Collins
THE National Committee for Veterinary Health Alerts yesterday agreed that each autonomous region, including the Balearics, could fix its own areas of vigilance around wetlands to reinforce the measures against bird flu. It discounted, for the time being, the enclosure of domestic birds. This means that each autonomous region can modify the established radius of 10 kilometres and adapt the area of vigilance around the wetlands according to technical conditions, be they geographical or others. According to the Committee's agreement, regional governments will be able to increase or decrease the area of vigilance according to their circumstances. The autonomous regions can, from today, propose the introduction of new areas on the list of wetlands at risk, as Galicia has done. In fact, the list of risk areas for bird flu in Spain includes a total of 25 wetlands (five of them in the Balearics). With the aim of increasing control over farm birds, it has been agreed to create special areas of vigilance where intermediate measures can be adopted, such as taking censuses in farms or in areas containing birds, visiting farms and taking blood samples if it proves necessary. The national Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) has promised to develop a plan of confinement, if necessary, and a procedure for emergency vaccination in the case of the appearance of any case of bird flu in Spain. The director general of Stockbreeding, Carlos Escribano, confirmed that all the autonomous regions agreed unanimously that, taking into account the actual situation, the enclosure of birds is not necessary at this time. However, a drop in the sale of chicken of five per cent has been confirmed nationwide.