Bird flu in Spain

The Spanish government announced today its first major plan aimed at trying to contain the threat of bird flu in Spain by putting new controls on bird farms surrounding some of Spain’s wetlands which support both migratory and resident waterfowl all year round.

The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Elena Espinosa, presented the plan to ministers from Spain’s regional governments this morning. As a result of a new government emergency order, 18 wetland parks in Spain (including Doñana, Alicante, Valencia, the Ebro delta, and Tablas de Daimiel) will be considered areas at risk from bird flu because they are home to a periodically high concentration of migratory birds flying from Europe to Africa and vice versa. According to Spanish Agricultural Ministry figures, each of the 18 wetlands receive on average 6000 migratory birds each year.

Any open-air breeding of birds in a 10km radius around these high risk wetlands will be forbidden in a new measure to avoid any newly bred birds from coming into contact with migratory birds which could be carrying the deadly bird flu virus.

According to El Pais, over 1500 open-air fowl breeding farms in Spain could be affected by the new measure.

Espinosa told reporters this morning that Spain’s regional governments had until Thursday to decide whether any other wetlands should be included in the list of risk zones. Thereafter the new order will be published and put into practice immediately until the European Union decides to review the situation.