Bird flu hits poultry in Israel and the West Bank

Some 30,000 cases of H5N1 had been identified, with 15,000 resultant deaths and 10,000 other birds "destroyed."

Chicken (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Israeli and Palestinian officials are implementing strict measures to curb the spread of avian flu, which continues to infect poultry on both sides of the Green Line.
Thus far, some 15,000 birds have died from the H5N1 avian flu at the Aviel turkey-fattening farm near Hadera and an additional 4,000 have suffered from the disease at a Palestinian coop near Jenin, Israeli and Palestinian authorities reported. Within Israel proper, the Agriculture Ministry said it has begun handling some 100,000 birds at coops in the Aviel area and will continue monitoring poultry within 10 kilometers of that spot.
A highly contagious disease among poultry because H5N1 is a zoonotic virus, the illness also can potentially spread to humans. The first cases of H5N1, which mainly circulates in parts of Asia and northeast Africa, to impact humans occurred in 1997, the World Health Organization said.
According to data submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health on Sunday by Dr. Nadav Galon, chief veterinarian at the Agriculture Ministry’s Veterinary Services, 30,000 cases of H5N1 had been identified, with 15,000 resultant deaths and 10,000 other birds “destroyed.”
According to the report, 141,000 birds were deemed “susceptible,” but officials determined that 61,000 at a farm located 350 meters away from Aviel had not yet been affected.
The Aviel turkey-fattening farm contains 13 pens with a total of 55,000 males and 25,000 females aged 16 to 17 weeks, the report said. Mortality was observed in five of the pens and was very high and hyper-acute in three of them, Galon’s report indicated.
H5N1 cases first appeared in Israeli poultry in March 2006. Since then, all the outbreaks that impacted commercial flocks also occurred in the month of March – 2011 and 2012 – aside from one incident in January 2010, 8 kilometers from the current case, the information said. An additional case was discovered at a kindergarten’s zoo in December 2007, only 3 kilometers from Aviel.
The area in question has many water ponds where birds winter, Galon’s report added.
“The culling of all the flocks is ongoing,” the report said. “Backyard birds in the village will also be culled.”
Cases of avian flu also were discovered on Monday in Palestinian poultry coops in the Jenin area.
At the Serir poultry farm, the disease already has resulted in the deaths of about 4,000 birds, according to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) – the Defense Ministry unit containing the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinian Authority Agriculture Ministry intends to kill about 5,000 other potentially affected birds, according to information received from COGAT. The remainder of the infected poultry at the Serir coop were culled by the farmers there on Tuesday, a Civil Administration spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, 5,000 infected birds were discovered in Kfar Amin on Tuesday – all of which were destroyed by farmers, the spokeswoman confirmed. Potential cases in Tulkarm are currently under investigation, she added.
The director of the civil administration has ordered an increase in border- crossing enforcement,” a statement from COGAT said. “In addition, there is a freeze on the entrance of poultry into the Judea and Samaria area.”
Also, on Tuesday, the civil administration coordinated the transfer of 100 safety suits for people handling the infected birds and 1,000 anti-viral Tamiflu pills to Palestinian farmers who work with infected poultry to minimize any contagious effects, the spokeswoman said.