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Avian Influenza: Hazardous Substances

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has received from the World Animal Health Organisation on the storage of the H5N1 virus between the taking of samples and testing. (181054)

[holding answer 22 January 2008]: The samples for routine dead wild bird surveillance are collected according to standardised protocols, accredited to a United Kingdom Accreditation Service International Standards Organisation 17025 quality system. DEFRA employs the diagnostic expertise of the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), Weybridge, which is the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and European Union Reference Laboratory for avian influenza (AI). Our sampling, collection, storage and transportation methods are entirely consistent with international and EU standards. We continually revise and subject all aspects of our AI surveillance activities to peer review in light of new international evidence as it arises.

The OIE produces a ‘Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines’ that contains recommendations for sample collection and transport. The VLA contribute to the production of such materials and also adhere to them.