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As outbreaks of avian flu have shown in the past, animal diseases can prove harmful to animals and people alike. The agriculture committee agreed this week new measures to prevent and stop future outbreaks of these diseases. Apart from the health risk, there is also an economic cost. Check out our infographics for more details.

The measures to tackle animal diseases, backed by the agriculture committee on 23 February, include allowing the European Commission to ask EU countries to establish a national database of pets if needed as well as empowering it to immediately take urgent measures in the case of an outbreak. However, all disease control measures will have to take animal welfare into account and spare the animals involved, including stray animals, any avoidable pain, distress or suffering.

Although the measures have already been provisionally agreed with the Council, the agreement will still need to be approved by MEPs during a plenary session. The vote will probably take part in March.

Pet registration

Meanwhile Parliament is also looking at other measures to keep animals healthy. On 25 February MEPs adopted a resolution calling for an EU database on the registration of cats and dogs in order to fight pet trafficking. Pets are Europe's most profitable illegal trade after narcotics and weapons, resulting in badly bred animals and an increase risk of spreading diseases.