A SCREENING programme has found no new cases of the low-path H3N1 outbreak of avian influenza in Belgium.

The virus circulated in flocks in the country since April with about 80 farms affected before an official control programme was put in place in July.

As a non-notifiable disease, there is no obligation for state aid to be provided for farmers, which slowed culling and other control measures.

Despite being low-path, the disease often acted with the virility of high-pathogen AI, with mortality reported up to 50% in some flocks.

The screening programme is a one-off exercise, lasting between 29 July and 30 September, and in early September no farms had been found positive.

Martijn Chombaere, policy officer at Belgian poultry association Landsbond Pluimvee, said: “It is certainly a good thing that the virus will not be found for the time being, although it should not create the wrong sense of security.

“Screening only a limited number of animals of such a young age is not completely conclusive, but essential that it is performed. We need to be vigilant.”