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No Fear Over Bird Flu in Humans

The highly contagious H5N8 virus has been reported in at least 50 countries over the past few months.The highly contagious H5N8 virus has been reported in at least 50 countries over the past few months.

Health Ministry spokesperson Iraj Harirchi has ruled out the possibility of human avian influenza in Iran.

“There have been no cases of bird-to-human influenza in the country, and all biosafety measures have been taken to ensure that the virus does not spread among people,” he said at a press conference on Monday allaying concerns regarding the dangerous strain of the virus.

“People should not be concerned about chicken and eggs available in markets, but the strict ban on hunting wild animals remains in place,” he stressed.

The Iran Veterinary Organization in a statement on Saturday had said that the H5N8, the more dangerous strain of the virus, detected in seven provinces initially had spread to 11 provinces: Markazi, Alborz, Qom, East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Kermanshah, Mazandaran, Golestan, Gilan, Lorestan and Tehran.

However, East Azarbaijan, Alborz, and Golestan had not reported new cases over the past days.

The IVO statement also notes that despite strict ban on hunting or trade of wild birds, it still continues in several provinces particularly the northern provinces of Gilan, Golestan, and Mazandaran. The violators will face severe legal action, the IVO warned, urging citizens to report any cases of violation. It has also urged farmers not to take any action regarding diagnosis and treatment of avian flu without informing the IVO.

According to Harirchi, the National Headquarters to Fight Bird Flu meets regularly to keep the situation in check. The headquarters comprise first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri, several ministers, and heads of IVO, Department of Environment, Law Enforcement Forces, and Management and Planning Organization.

Iran has culled hundreds of thousands of birds in recent weeks as avian flu spread across several provinces, according to local news outlets.

Afghanistan was the latest country to ban the import of chicken and eggs from Iran. Iraq, Azerbaijan Republic and Iraqi Kurdistan have also banned import of Iranian poultry and related products.

  50 Countries Affected

The highly contagious H5N8 virus has been reported in at least 50 countries over the past few months. Scientists have raised concerns that bird flu strains could mutate to be transmitted in humans.

In China, people have died this winter amid an outbreak of the H7N9 virus in birds. France, which has the largest poultry flock in the European Union, has reported outbreaks of the H5N8 virus.

The US Department of Agriculture said on Monday it had detected a type of bird flu in a wild duck in Montana that appeared to match one of the strains found during an outbreak of the disease in 2014 and 2015 that led to the deaths of millions of chickens, Reuters reported.

No US poultry have been found to be sick or dead from the disease in connection with the latest discovery, the USDA said.

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