Da Ha'aretz del 23/03/2006
Originale su http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/697454.html

Officials confirm avian flu killed birds in Jordan Valley coop

di Yuval Azoulay, Amiram Cohen

The Agriculture Ministry said on Thursday that dead birds found in a poultry coop in the Jordan Valley tested positive for the deadly strain of avian flu, confirming the virus was continuing to spread across the country.

The ministry's announcement was based on interim results from the test that indicated it was highly probable the virus was of the violent strain. The tests, however, were not completed at the time of the announcement.

Moshav Bekaot was quarantined Wednesday after dozens of turkeys were found dead, and Thursday morning the Veterinary Services began culling the flocks in the four poultry coops in the community.

These are the only coops in a 3km radius from the moshav, therefore culling will not take place in nearby communities. The Veterinary Service imposed a 10km-radius quarantine in the area.

In response to the outbreak, the Offkor slaughterhouse in Sderot closed indefinitely on Thursday.

Poultry farmers representative Yaakov Cohen said farmers could expect some NIS 25-30 million in direct damages from the flu outbreak.

Cohen met with Agriculture Ministry director general Yossi Yishai Wednesday on the mechanism to compensate farmers for fowl that die of avian flu or are destroyed by veterinary services.

According to the agreement, farmers will get a 50 percent advance on their direct damages within a week of the event. The rest of the compensation will be paid out within 30 days, after farmers present relevant documentation. The sum will be determined according to the criteria in the "Animal Diseases" regulation, and will take into account factors such as the cost of raising the birds and their age.


On Wednesday Israel said it would help the Palestinian Authority confront bird flu after initial tests conducted on dead chickens from the Gaza Strip indicated that the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has spread there.

This is the first outbreak of the disease in the Palestinian territories, the Agriculture Ministry said Wednesday. The virus was found in coops built on the ruins of the former settlement of Netzarim, in the central Strip.

Yishai has meanwhile authorized assistance to the Palestinian Authority that is to include protective gear and other equipment and guidance to Palestinians dealing confronting the outbreak.

Israeli and Palestinian officials were set to meet Wednesday evening at the Erez border crossing. Representatives from the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry and Palestinian veterinarians were to participate in the session. They were to be joined by the chief Israeli veterinarian at the Agriculture Ministry and the head of the Gaza coordination administration.

The tests were conducted after another 200 chickens were found dead in a coop in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip early Wednesday, ministry spokeswoman Dafna Yarisca said.

Although final results will not be available for at least 48 hours, the ministry has advised the Palestinians to treat the initial results as definitive because they came up positive for the H5 protein, Yarisca said. Further tests will determine if it is H5N1.

Israel conducts all such tests on behalf of the Palestinians, who do not have the technology. The sides have been cooperating for months to try to prevent the deadly bird flu from reaching the region.

Acting Palestinian Health Minister Ghassan Khatib confirmed that initial tests indicated an outbreak of the flu, but could provide no further details.

Israel has culled some 400,000 infected turkeys and chickens since discovering the bird flu virus in southern Israel last week. Infected farms have been isolated and Israel is planning to compensate farmers damaged by the virus.

The H5N1 virus has killed or forced the slaughter of tens of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia since 2003, and recently spread to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

World health officials fear H5N1 could evolve into a virus that would easily be transmitted between people, potentially triggering a global pandemic, though there is no evidence that is happening.

About 100 people have died from the disease worldwide, most after having been directly infected by sick birds.

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