Bird flu outbreak leads to Veterinary Service state of emergency

Two separate outbreaks of bird flu in a town in northern Israel led the Agriculture Ministry to announce a state of emergency on Saturday night.

 A flock of chickens (Illustrative). (photo credit: PIXABAY)
A flock of chickens (Illustrative).
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

A state of emergency has been announced in Israel by the Veterinary Service at the Ministry of Agriculture on Saturday evening after H5N1 bird flu was found in chicken coops near the town of Margaliot leading to the killing of 320,000 hens after 244,000 hens were killed in a separate outbreak on Sunday.

Margaliot is a moshav in northern Israel. It is located near the border of Lebanon in the Upper Galilee area near Kiryat Shmona.

The Veterinary Service said that it isolated the coops, immediately stopped the marketing of eggs both from the coops and the sorting station that received them, and began to examine nearby coops for the disease, the ministry said.

It also announced that a shortage of 14 million eggs per month is to be expected in the near future and directed that tariffs on imported eggs be adjusted in order to compensate for the shortage.

Hundreds of thousands of birds migrate through Israel on their way to Africa during this season, raising the risk of bird flu outbreaks. The Agriculture Ministry has called on all farmers to follow directives and ensure that their birds are kept separate from wild birds, so as not to infect humans.

 Inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture are seen in Kibbutz Rosh Tsurim in Gush Etzion. March 08, 2011. More than forty-thousand turkeys were set to be slaughtered Tuesday at Kibbutz Rosh Tsurim in Gush Etzion after the deadly bird flu virus was discovered in one of the coops. (credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90) Inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture are seen in Kibbutz Rosh Tsurim in Gush Etzion. March 08, 2011. More than forty-thousand turkeys were set to be slaughtered Tuesday at Kibbutz Rosh Tsurim in Gush Etzion after the deadly bird flu virus was discovered in one of the coops. (credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90)

The Health Ministry also stressed that the public should only buy poultry and eggs from regulated places and check that eggs have a seal of inspection, and should also make sure to properly, hygienically and thoroughly cook poultry and eggs.

A high number of bird flu outbreaks have also been reported throughout Europe, Africa and Asia in recent weeks, mostly due to the H5N1 subtype, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The OIE has urged countries to increase surveillance for high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks, as the virus has been reported in over 40 countries since July.

The H5N1, H5N3, H5N4, H5N5, H5N6 and H5N8 subtypes of HPAI are circulating in bird and poultry populations across the globe, sparking concern at OIE which called this an “unprecedented genetic variability of subtypes... creating an epidemiologically challenging landscape.”