The most likely pathway for avian flu to enter Europe is by wild birds crossing the north-eastern and eastern border of the European Union.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has assessed the risk of avian influenza entering the EU and reviewed surveillance approaches, the actions that countries take to minimise its spread.

One of the main recommendations is that water birds found dead should be reported to the local veterinary authorities, particularly during the autumn and winter influenza season.

Testing farmed water birds such as ducks and geese for avian influenza is also important because they can easily come into contact with wild birds and then spread the virus. This can be done by blood analysis of live poultry and by testing for viruses in farmed water birds found dead.

Farmers and poultry keepers are advised to adopt appropriate management measures to increase biosecurity. These include preventing direct contact between wild water birds and poultry by using nets or keeping poultry indoors during peak influenza season and avoiding the movement of animals between farms.

Arjan Stegeman, chair of the working group on avian influenza, said: "This work will enhance the EU’s preparedness for avian influenza outbreaks, just ahead of the peak influenza season in autumn and winter. It would not have been possible without the close cooperation with member states affected by this epidemic."