FVO report – Greece – Brucellosis situation critical for sheep and goats

This report describes the outcome of an audit carried out by the Food and Veterinary office in Greece from 12 to 16 October 2015. The objectives of the audit were:

  • to determine whether eradication measures are in compliance with planned arrangements, implemented effectively and suitable in achieving objectives and
  • to evaluate whether prior epidemiological information, knowledge and experience in implementation of the Programme, have been used effectively in setting objectives and targets of the next year Programme.

The Programme measures such as vaccination and sampling are not implemented to the extent planned. There are significant differences between regions. Under-implementation of vaccination significantly affects its effectiveness in reducing the disease prevalence. Measures on positive holdings are generally implemented according to the Programme, but their effectiveness is compromised by a failure to test all eligible animals in infected herds and insufficient controls of movements of animals from such herds. This may result in prolonged duration and spread of infection. The suitability of the current Programme is hampered by a significant mismatch between the Programme targets and human resources available for its implementation. The Central competent authority had made efforts to overcome the problem of staff resources, e.g. the involvement of private veterinarians but solutions are not operational yet.

Monitoring and review of the progress of the Programme has improved. However, there has been no adjustment of the Programme objectives and targets in order to take into account the available resources. The lack of analysis of existing data on risk factors for introduction and spread of B. melitensis and in particular of the impact of non-vaccinated male animals, prevented adjustment of the Programme measures to the epidemiological situation.

The control of sheep and goat brucellosis is compromised by absence of reporting and analysis of abortions. This results in a lack of detection or late detection of positive holdings, which is often triggered by the investigation of cases in humans. The fact that 65% of human cases are associated with consumption of unpasteurised dairy products and the same proportion of cases come from farming and non-farming communities, indicate that the zoonotic risk is insufficiently controlled in infected dairy herds.

Additional constraints that hamper the elimination of infection in infected herds arise from vaccination of adult animals. This limits the use of serological tests. However, around 50% of animals are vaccinated at the age of 3 to 6 month, meaning they are eligible for serological testing when older than 18 months. However, they are not tested in positive herds. Effective actions are required as regards updating the national herd database and in particular registration of very small holdings to ensure that planning and evaluations are based on reliable data.

Considering the current level of achievements of the Programme objectives and targets on one hand, and available human resources on the other, the Programme and its implementation needs major adjustments to deliver its intended results.

Plant Harmful organisms in the EU – Annual report 2014

Article 16 (1) and (2) of Directive 2000/29/EC, requires that Member States immediately notify the European Commission and other Member States, of the presence or appearance of harmful organisms found on their territory or part of it, as well as the measures taken to eradicate or avoid the spread of the harmful organism concerned.

This is required whether the harmful organisms are regulated (specifically listed in European Union (EU) legislation) or not. The European Commission analyses and reports on these notifications on a continuous basis and provides monthly reports on notifications received to the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, section Plant Health, in order to assist risk management decisions at EU level.

This report provides an overview of the notifications received from Member States in 2014, as well as the main trends in the period 2010 to 2014.

The total number of notifications received annually has remained relatively stable since 2010. In 2014, a total of 220 notifications were received from 27 Member States. Approximately two thirds of these related to regulated harmful organisms. 19 were updates to previous notifications.

Some of the notifications received in 2014 give rise to concern because of the seriousness of the particular harmful organisms and because of their first finding or their spread in the EU territory. Some of these harmful organisms are currently non–regulated in the EU. However, because of the potential risk they present, they are listed in the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation Alert list, i.e. identified as good candidates for a Pest Risk Analysis.

At EU level, actions have been planned or are being taken with a view to addressing these risks. As in previous years, the number of notifications varies significantly between Member States which could reflect a different interpretation of Member States’ obligations pursuant to Article 16 (1) and (2).

Furthermore, despite some improvement compared to previous year, notifications still present a consistent lack of certain information which hinders the risk management decision process and capacity to have a clear picture of the effectiveness of phytosanitary measures implemented and of the status of the different harmful organisms in the EU. The adoption of Decision 2014/917/EU in December 2014, which sets out detailed rules for the implementation of Article 16 (1) and (2), combined with the development of a web-based notification system (EUROPHYT) and a common protocol for notifications, are expected to foster the harmonisation of practices between Member States. This should help timely decisions at EU level for an increased level of protection of the EU territory against phytosanitary risks.

In 2014, a large proportion of the outbreak notifications (72%) either did not make any reference to the source of the infestation or stated that it was unknown. Out of the 201 outbreak notifications, only 57 provided information on the possible source of the infestation. As regards movements within the EU, infested planting material is often considered as the likely source of the infestation.

Between the new risks identified the well known Xylella fastidiosa in coffee plants was the most dangerous. Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium listed in Annex IAI, was first found in the EU in 2013, in the province of Lecce in Italy where a sudden decline of olives was observed. This finding was closely followed up by the Commission in consultation with the Standing Committee, and EU emergency measures were adopted in February 2014. In addition, a Commission audit was carried out to the affected area in February 2014, followed by 3 further audits since then to assess the situation and control measures implemented by the Competent Authorities. Amongst other exchanges of information with Italy, three notifications were received in 2014 in which Italy reported new vectors, new host plants and the extent of the infestation in the Lecce region (see also section 4.2.1). Regarding the findings on Coffea plants referred to in section 4.2.1, an import ban on such plants from Costa Rica and Honduras has been introduced with Commission Implementing Decision 2015/789/EU to protect the EU from further introductions from these origins.

For more information see also the EU Commission infographic.