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Bhutan's Borders Closed to Poultry

by 5m Editor
23 February 2009, at 9:51a.m.

BHUTAN - The local authorities are keeping the country's orders clsoed to poultry imports until its neighbours are bird flu-free.

It looks like chicken will remain off the menu with no sign of the ban on import of poultry products being lifted any time soon, according to Kuensel Online.

With a fresh outbreak of bird flu (H5N1) in the bordering districts of India and the Indian government declaring a bird flu outbreak in two West Bengal blocks recently, the ban will be lifted only when India declares itself bird flu free, say officials of Bhutan agriculture and food regulatory authority (BAFRA).

"Although there was no case so far of bird flu spreading to humans, lifting the ban without appropriate measures and reviews could spark deadly disease," said the executive director of BAFRA. So far, India has not reported any human infections.

He said that BAFRA would lift the ban only when the world animal health body approves it appropriate, after reviewing and monitoring the issue. "However, prevention activity is in full swing."

The ban on poultry products started on 16 January last year.

Authorities in West Bengal have started culling thousands of chickens and ducks since February, trying to contain a fresh outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

West Bengal officials were quoted saying, "We began killing poultry in two villages in the densely populated state's Cooch Behar district bordering Bangladesh, after dead bird samples tested positive for bird flu. Birds had been dying in that area and 30 teams have been engaged to cull about 45,000 chickens and ducks in the region."

The latest outbreak of the virus in poultry in India is the sixth since 2007 in West Bengal, where over four million birds were culled early last year in what the World Health Organisation described as India's worst-ever bird flu outbreak, says Kuensel Online.