To date (May 2007) Tunisia is free of HPAI H5N1. Because of the importance of the poultry sector and the wild birds (several sites in Tunisia are stop-over for palearctic birds during the spring and the fall migration), the Tunisian authorities have taken the question of Avian Influenza very seriously.
From autumn 2005, a national commission on AI was established, meeting once every two weeks under the auspices of the Ministries of Agriculture and Health. Hunting of most wild birds (except: sedentary partridge, sand grouse, larks, quail and doves) has been prohibited since 9 November 2005 and since 27 November 2005 of all wild birds. Because of the difficulty of catching wild ducks and other water birds alive, officials of the Directorate General of Forests (DGF) in each region (governorate) undertook sampling missions about once a month in which they shot wild water birds which were immediately sampled by the veterinary services for possible AI. About 1,700 wild birds from the whole of the country were collected and sampled in the winter of 2005/06. No cases of AI were detected anywhere in Tunisia.
Two epidemiological survey of the influenza virus in wild birds has been conducted in Tunisia in the framework of the Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP) of FAO (Surveillance and prevention of HPAI, FAO TCP ). Objectives were to evaluate the Avian Influenza prevalence, in particular highly pathogenic strains, among wild bird populations, including both migratory and resident bird species; and to provide technical support to the national surveillance programme through capacity building of national counterparts on sampling techniques.