Saudi Arabia has imposed a temporary ban on the import of poultry livestock, meat, eggs, chicks and their products and equipment from Tunisia and Poland, an official source at the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture revealed on Thursday.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the decision came after the ministry had received a warning from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) about the appearance of avian flu infections in these regions. The kingdom’s various outlets and other relevant government agencies were notified about the issue in order to take the necessary action, SPA added. Avian flu is an infectious type of virus that could kill birds such as ducks and chickens.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), human infections with the HPAI A(H5N1) virus were reported in 1997 during an outbreak in poultry in Hong Kong SAR, China. In 2003, the avian virus spread from Asia to Europe and Africa, and has become entrenched in poultry populations in some countries, resulting in millions of infections, several hundred human cases and many human deaths.
At the time, the prevalence of the virus forced concerned countries to cull a large number of birds in order to prevent its spread.
In June last year, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) banned the import of poultry meat, eggs, their products and equipment from five regions in the United States because of the spread of severe bird flu disease there.