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Bird flu outbreak prompts Saudi Arabia to ban poultry imports from the Netherlands

Tracy Otterson puts avian influenza samples in the centrifuge to clean them up before moving to extraction, in this file photo taken on April 8, 2015 at the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn. (AP)
RIYADH: The outbreak of an avian influenza prompted the Kingdom to temporarily ban imports of poultry products from the bird flu-affected Netherlands.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced that a temporary ban is in place on the import of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from Flevoland, the Netherlands due to the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza reported in the area.

The H5N1 virus occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly in domestic poultry.

The decision to ban poultry imports from the country in northwestern Europe is based on a warning issued by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Commenting on the ban, Sanad Al-Harbi, director general of the Department of Animal Risk Assessment, said that the ban is based on the warning bulletin issued by the OIE on the emergence of the pathogenic avian influenza.

Notably, the OIE is an inter-governmental organization which coordinates and supports animal disease control, and cautions governments on outbreaks in different parts of the world.

Such bans are periodically reviewed and lifted when the situation returns to normal, the ministry sources said.

The Kingdom, the second-largest importer of chicken broiler meat in the world, previously imposed similar bans on poultry imports from countries experiencing bird flu outbreaks.

These bans were lifted when the situation improved to be normal when the countries were free of bird flu.

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