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Israel Destroys Poultry After Avian Flu Outbreak


Israel is trying to halt the spread of a deadly outbreak of avian flu. The poultry industry at several collective farms has been wiped out.

Israeli health officials are destroying tens of thousands of turkeys and chickens at four kibbutz farming communities hit hard by the bird flu. Some 16,000 birds have died in the first outbreak of avian flu in Israel.

Dr. Shimon Pokamonsky, the chief veterinarian for fowl diseases at the Agriculture Ministry, told Israel Radio that all poultry within a three-kilometer radius of the infected farms will be destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading. Tractors dug six-meter deep pits to bury the carcasses.

People in the infected areas have been asked to minimize their travels, and cars entering and leaving the farms are being disinfected. Residents are taking it in stride.

"It is business as usual here," says Rami Negbi, from Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, adding that health officials say there is little chance of humans contracting the disease. Four farm workers hospitalized Friday with flu symptoms have been given a clean bill of health.

Health officials worldwide have warned that avian flu could evolve into a virus that can be transmitted easily between people, and become a global pandemic.

So far, this is not happening, but news out of neighboring Egypt has Israeli officials worried. The World Health Organization says an Egyptian woman who died this week had bird flu. That is cause for concern here, because officials believe the virus entered Israel from Egypt.

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