Israeli, Palestinian agriculture officials cooperate to curb bird flu spread

Israeli Agriculture Ministry meet with Palestinian counterparts for information exchange regarding ongoing avian flu cases.

Chicken (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Officials from the Agriculture Ministry met with their Palestinian counterparts on Wednesday for an information exchange regarding ongoing avian flu cases, the ministry said, since “emerging diseases do not recognize borders.”
Israeli and Palestinian delegates met at the ministry’s offices in Beit Dagan, where they discussed disease eradication and continued modes of cooperation. The delegates included representatives from the Agriculture Ministry and Health Ministry, as well as Palestinian Veterinary Services managers from Ramallah and Gaza.
Also attending the meeting were representatives of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and of the World Organization for Animal Health, the ministry said.
At the same time as the meeting, a new case of 35,000 chickens infected with avian flu was identified at Moshav Halevy, near Hadera, the Agriculture Ministry said.
Ministry officials ordered the birds’ immediate culling and burial.
This contamination case was the latest of several that have impacted farms in northern-central Israel and in the Palestinian Authority in the past two weeks.
Others sites of infection this week included Kibbutz Magal – a Menashe Regional Council community just west of the Green Line – and Binyamina- Givat Ada, according to a report that Dr. Nadav Galon, chief veterinarian at the Agriculture Ministry’s Veterinary Services, submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health on Sunday.
At Magal, 40,000 birds – 10-week-old turkeys – were deemed susceptible and 15,000 tested positive for avian flu, the report said.
About 5,000 died from the disease, while 35,000 were culled, the data said.
The Binyamina-Givat Ada site, containing 36-week-old broiler chickens, had 17,000 susceptible animals, Galon’s report stated. With 3,500 of them testing positive, 1,700 of the chickens died from the disease, while 15,300 were culled, he wrote.
At the end of last week, Agriculture Ministry workers completed culling operations at the country’s first facility to show signs of avian flu this year: the Aviel turkey-fattening farm in Hadera.
Avian flu, or H5N1, is highly contagious among poultry.
The virus is zoonotic, meaning it could spread to humans. The first documented case in humans occurred in 1997, and it mainly circulates in southeast Asia and northeast Africa.
In addition to the cases recorded thus far in Israel proper, several West Bank Palestinian farms have encountered the virus in their poultry.
Affected birds were discovered and culled last week at the Serir poultry farm near Jenin, and in Beit Amin, south of Kalkilya.
Last week, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria facilitated the transfer of 100 safety suits for those handling infected birds, and 1,000 anti-viral Tamiflu pills for Palestinian farmers at risk of infection.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the delegates discussed further modes of cooperation regarding the prevention, diagnosis and control of the disease – with the goal of establishing an umbrella group for regional cooperation on containing the virus, the ministry said.