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EU Bans US Poultry Imports - 2004-02-24

The European Union has banned the import of poultry from the United States, following the discovery of bird flu in the southern U.S. state of Texas.

A chicken flock in Texas was diagnosed Monday with what authorities described as an extremely infectious and fatal form of bird flu. European Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen made the announcement in Brussels.

"The commission will therefore take immediate action and suspend the import of live birds and eggs from all of the United States," he said. "The EU imports chicks and table and hatching eggs from the U.S."

The European Union is to review the ban before it expires on March 23. Chicken and turkey meat are also banned, but the European Union does not currently import these.

U.S. officials are watching the situation closely to prevent any spread of bird flu. But authorities say the flu strain in Texas is different from the one blamed for killing at least 22 people in Asia and is considered a low health threat to humans.

The European Union has already banned imports of Thai poultry following an outbreak of bird flu there. The Asian outbreak among humans raised concern among scientists who said it demonstrates how a deadly strain of bird flu can be transferred from one species to another.