Pak, SL, Nepal ban Indian poultry
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Pak, SL, Nepal ban Indian poultry

Following the outbreak of bird flu, the South Asian neighbours have banned importing poultry products from India.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 19:00 IST

Following the outbreak of bird flu in Maharashtra, India's South Asian neighbours have banned importing poultry and poultry products from the country.

Sri Lanka's Director General of Health, Dr SKR Amarasekara was quoted as saying in a state-owned daily that among the banned products were feathers and skin, used in making sofas, jackets and belts.

Director of Epidemiology, Dr Nihal Abeysinghe, said that the government has asked Sri Lankan farmers to keep away anybody from India who had visited rural areas in that country recently.

In Nepal, government veterinary officials said that the Kingdom was seeking to check the entry of poultry from India, but added the impoverished nation's resources were limited to tackle the problem.

Dhana Raj Ratala, the agriculture ministry's livestock services director, said 24 quarantine posts on Nepal's border with India were on high alert to prevent poultry entering the country.

But he said, "At a regional level, the local government doesn't have many resources to combat the disease".

A senior World Health Organisation official also expressed concern about the possible spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu into Nepal.

"There's a high risk because Nepal's borders with India are completely porous," said Margarita Ronderos, Nepal epidemiologist for the World Health Organization, adding that preventing the entry of birds was nigh on impossible.

"While checkpoints have been alerted, it's almost impossible to stop," she said.

The Nepal poultry import ban followed India's announcement on the weekend that some 50,000 birds had died in western Maharastra state and tests of some of the bodies had detected the presence of the H5N1 virus.

Surveillance has been identified as key to controlling the disease and inspections of suspected cases have already been conducted, the WHO official said.

"So far, field inspectors have looked at around 20 cases -- all of which turned out to be negative," Ronderos said.

Nepal is a migratory route for many flocks of wild birds.

Last October, Nepalese authorities banned imports of European poultry following incidences of bird flu cases involving the H5N1 strain there.

Pakistan on Monday banned poultry imports from India following reports of detection of bird flu in Maharashtra.

However, Pakistan ruled out sealing its borders to prevent the deadly virus from spreading.

Pakistan's Food and Agricultural Ministry official Rana Muhammad Akhlaq said Pakistan has banned poultry imports from India, Iran and France in view of reports of detection of cases of bird flu in these countries.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, however, said Pakistan has no plans to seal the borders and called for stepping up of international cooperation to prevent the spread of the virus.

She said Pakistan was deeply concerned over the reports of detection of the H5N1 avian influenza in the neighbourhood, as such deadly viruses do not recognise borders.

She said concerned ministries in Pakistan are taking stock of the situation even though no such case was reported in the country so far. "But we cannot take it for granted," she said.

Asked whether the Government has any plans to seal borders with India, she said "Not at the moment. There is no such proposal."

The first preventive measure is to create awareness. Any cases of flue immediately should be reported to the medical official, she said.

Pakistan imports meat products from India, specially mutton and beef more than the poultry products.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 13:23 IST