Egg producers should take steps to ensure that their flocks are protected against salmonella infection right through to the end of lay.
"We have been informed that an EU salmonella survey means that faeces/dust samples will be collected by the State Veterinary Service from flocks approaching the end of production." Matthias Mangels, Lohmann Animal Health's head of vaccine sales, told a meeting of egg producers in Shropshire.
He said that the industry was doing a good job in controlling salmonella. Human cases of salmonella PT4 (the type linked to UK eggs) in 2003 decreased once again - 22.5 per cent below the previous year and "an enormous 43 per cent" down since the year 2000. "Many salmonella cases relating to eggs can be traced to imports and I think it is important that your industry zealously guards its record in this respect."
In response to reports that positive cases of salmonella in flocks on farms had doubled in 2003 he said: "Our investigations indicate that these outbreaks were due to a combination of non-vaccination, incomplete vaccination and imported hatching eggs. This year, we can confirm that, to date, there have only been five positive farm cases."
Mr Mangels pointed out that the UK had a unique record in dealing with salmonella in eggs and now led the world in terms of turning salmonella control into a marketing advantage through the Lion Egg scheme. However, he warned the industry not to be complacent.
"There are still flocks which don't vaccinate or fail to carry out proper vaccination procedures, such as completing the full course and these can jeopardise all the progress made."