Culling of avian flu-infected poultry nearly done

The Agricultural Ministry announced Saturday that it had nearly completed the culling and burying of poultry infected with the H5N1 strain of bird flu in several communities in the south. On Friday, Army Radio reported that Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had permitted the continued culling of poultry throughout Shabbat. According to the report, Rabbi Amar had reached the conclusion that the act constituted a life-saving measure. More than one million chickens and turkeys have been destroyed at Kibbutzim Ein Hashlosha, Nir Oz, Sde Moshe and Holit, as well as Moshav Amioz since the virus was first detected more than a week ago. Poultry was also found to be contaminated with the virus in the nearby Palestinian Authority controlled Gaza Strip. More than 13 thousand birds were destroyed there. Meanwhile, Maariv reported on its web site that birds found dead on a farm in the Galilee region did not die from the bird flu virus.