Monday, 30th October 2017

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Cry for bird import ban

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 24.10.05

Brussels, Oct. 23 (Reuters): The European Union looks likely to ban the import of live wild birds as it tries to stem the global advance of a virulent strain of bird flu that might one day spread to humans.

Britain called for a ban after flu killed a parrot imported from South America which had been quarantined with other birds from Taiwan, where the lethal H5N1 strain has been detected.

A spokesman said the European Commission would make a swift final decision after EU farm ministers and the bloc’s food security committee discuss it.

“The Commission is currently reviewing the proposal and will take a decision shortly, by Tuesday,” he said.

H5N1 has spread since it surfaced two years ago in South Korea. Wild birds have brought it this autumn to Europe’s flank, with cases confirmed in Russia, Turkey and Romania, whose Danube delta is a haven for migrating fowl.

Dead swans found at a Croatian pond ? where a cull was in full swing this weekend ? are also being checked, as are birds from Greece and Macedonia further south in the Balkans.

Less virulent bird flu is common but H5N1 kills a high proportion of birds that catch it and has so far claimed over 60 lives in Asia, most of them in Vietnam and Thailand.

Now endemic in poultry across much of Asia, it can be caught by people after prolonged and close contact with infected birds.

Scientists fear it may mix with a human flu strain, pass between people and trigger a lethal pandemic.

China will seal its borders, whatever the economic cost, if it finds a single case of human-to-human transmission there, the South China Morning Post quoted an official as saying.

Russia said it had found more bird flu in the Urals and was investigating a suspected outbreak close to the Kazakh border.

Wild birds are carrying H5N1 as they fly south for winter and many countries have taken steps to stop them mixing with domestic fowl.

Some, where H5N1 is confirmed, have followed the lead shown by South Korea in 2003 and started vast culls of domestic fowl.

Others, seeking to prevent contagion, have banned imports from suspect areas, prohibited live-bird markets, ordered fowl kept indoors for now, and stockpiled Tamiflu.