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Ciptapangan Visitor
Five countries impose ban as Dutch ease bird flu measures
posted by admin on 14/08/06

Birds Flus News,  Thursday, 10 August, 2006, 11:59 AM Doha Time

AMSTERDAM: Five countries have banned imports of Dutch poultry and poultry products after the Netherlands found a low-pathogenic H7 bird flu strain at a farm last week, the Dutch agriculture ministry said yesterday.

The countries, which have imposed blanket or partial bans on Dutch poultry imports are Russia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, a ministry spokesman said.

Earlier yesterday, the ministry said authorities have not discovered any new cases of the strain after conducting tests at the closed farms and so have eased measures meant to limit the spread of the disease.

The ministry said in a statement that transport was allowed again of birds for slaughter, newly-hatched chicks, eggs and other livestock out of a safety zone set up around the infected farm in the central Dutch region of Gelderse Vallei.

But it said other live poultry and their manure could still not be transported out of the zone. The authorities will review these measures again in a week.

Last week, Dutch authorities culled all 25,000 chickens at the infected farm and sealed off another 130 farms for testing to prevent a major outbreak in one of the world’s top poultry exporting countries.

Officials have said that the detected H7 strain is less dangerous than the one that hit the Netherlands in 2003 but measures were needed as it might mutate into a more aggressive form.

The import bans are a blow to the Dutch poultry industry, Europe’s second biggest after France.

The Netherlands sells abroad live birds, meat and eggs worth about 1.5bn euros a year mainly to Germany, Britain, Belgium, France, Ukraine, Japan, Poland and Russia.

The Netherlands suffered a devastating outbreak of an H7N7 avian flu strain in 2003 that led to the culling of 30mn birds, about a third of the poultry flock.

H7 bird flu in its highly pathogenic form can kill large numbers of birds and can occasionally infect people, although it is rarely fatal in humans. The 2003 outbreak in the Netherlands infected around 90 people, including a veterinarian who died.

The Netherlands has never reported a case of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain found in several other European Union countries.

Scientists have suggested that migratory birds play an important role in the spread of the H5N1 virus, which originated in Asia and has killed 134 people worldwide so far. – Reuters

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