Saudi Arabia bans poultry imports from Zimbabwe after bird flu outbreak

:: An outbreak prompted the Kingdom to temporarily ban imports of poultry products from bird flu-affected Zimbabwe.

The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said that a temporary ban is in place on the import of live birds, hatching eggs and chicks from Zimbabwe after the highly virulent bird flu was reported.

The decision to ban poultry imports is based on a warning issued by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which includes the outbreak of bird flu in Zimbabwe, said Bakr Al-Tarif, deputy director general of the Department of Risk Assessment of Livestock.

The OIE is an inter-governmental organization which coordinates and supports animal disease control, and cautions governments on outbreaks in different parts of the world. Such bans are periodically reviewed and lifted when the situation returns to normal, ministry sources said.

Earlier, Zimbabwean authorities said they had placed a privately owned farm under quarantine after bird flu killed 7,000 birds. Later, another 140,000 birds were culled to prevent the spread of the disease from the farm located on the outskirts of Harare. Zimbabwe identified the strain as H5N8, a highly pathogenic and lethal virus causing bird flu.

The Kingdom, the second-largest importer of chicken broiler meat in the world, previously imposed similar bans on poultry imports from countries experiencing bird flu outbreaks. These bans were lifted when the countries became disease-free.

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