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Chicken and egg exports have come to a halt following the outbreak of the highly contagious virus.
Chicken and egg exports have come to a halt following the outbreak of the highly contagious virus.

President Urged to Help Prevent Bird Flu Catastrophe

President Urged to Help Prevent Bird Flu Catastrophe

About two months after a bird flu outbreak hit Iran’s poultry farms, the Society of Day-Old Chicken Producers is warning that the situation might lead to a “catastrophe”, urging President Hassan Rouhani to call for emergency measures.
“The president should step in and issue a strict order to contain the outbreak,” Mostafa Seyyed Mostafavi, an SDOCP advisor, was quoted as saying by Iranian Agriculture News Agency.
“The government should have immediately provided all the financial resources Iran Veterinary Organization needed to fight the disease to minimize the costs.”
According to Mostafavi, similar outbreaks in the past have caused chicken farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
H5N8, a dangerous strain of the Bird Flu virus, was first detected in seven provinces late November. It then spread to 11 other provinces, namely Markazi, Alborz, Qom, East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Kermanshah, Mazandaran, Golestan, Gilan, Lorestan and Tehran, forcing chicken farmers to cull the infected birds.
Chicken and egg exports have come to a halt following the outbreak of the highly contagious virus. Afghanistan has been the latest neighboring country to ban the import of Iranian chicken and eggs after Iraq and Azerbaijan.
“If the situation continues as it is, more than 50% of the poultry industry will be destroyed. Furthermore, we will need to import chicken in the near future,” Mostafavi declared.
However, considering the global outbreak of the disease, the official added that depending on overseas supplies in case of a potential shortage may not be practical.
Different strains of bird flu have been spreading across Europe and Asia since late last year, leading to large-scale slaughtering of poultry in certain countries and some cases of human deaths in China from another strain of the virus H7N9.
There are many subtypes of avian influenza viruses, but only some strains of five subtypes have been known to infect humans: H5N1, H7N3, H7N7, H7N9 and H9N2.
France, which has the largest poultry flock in the European Union, has also reported outbreaks of the H5N8 virus.
The US Department of Agriculture and Kazakhstan also confirmed an outbreak of bird flu virus.
Earlier, Iran’s Health Ministry Spokesman Iraj Harirchi ruled out the possibility of human avian influenza in Iran.
“There have been no cases of bird-to-human influenza in Iran and all bio-safety measures have been taken to ensure that the virus does not spread among people,” he said at a press conference on January 9.
“People should not be concerned about the chicken and eggs supplied in the market,” adding that a strict ban on hunting wild birds remains in place.
According to Iran Veterinary Organization, despite the ban on hunting or trade of wild birds, they are still being practiced in several regions, especially the northern provinces of Gilan, Golestan, and Mazandaran. 
Violators will face criminal prosecution, the IVO has warned, urging citizens to report any cases of violation. The organization has also urged farmers not to take any action regarding the diagnosis and treatment of avian flu without informing the IVO.
The National Headquarters to Fight Bird Flu meets regularly to keep the situation in check. Members of the headquarters include First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, several ministers, as well as the heads of IVO, Department of Environment, Law Enforcement Forces and Management and Planning Organization.

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H5N6 has also infected humans, causing a number of fatalities in the last few years.

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