Japan bans UK poultry as bird flu cases spread

01-05-2006 | |

The Japanese Agricultural Ministry has imposed a temporary ban on British poultry due to an outbreak of avian influenza in Norfolk. The ban is primarily aimed at the import of chicks. Thousands of chickens in the area will be culled due to an outbreak of what is believed to be a H7N3 strain of the bird flu virus.


Japan has become the first country to ban imports of British poultry amid growing concerns about the threat of avian flu. The announcement comes as more than 15,000 chickens face slaughter in Norfolk after the virus was discovered on a further two farms over the weekend.
The Japanese government has already suspended imports of poultry from France, Germany and the Netherlands due to cases of avian influenza in Europe. Imports of poultry from the four countries accounted for about 80% of poultry imports last year.
The ministry will consider supporting poultry farmers with low-interest loans and other measures in the event of a long-term import ban.
Chicks are imported mainly from the United States and Europe for breeding, with their offspring raised by poultry farmers for eggs and meat.
Britain was the nation’s largest supplier last year with about 375,000 chicks, or about 37 percent of total imports, coming from the country, followed by France, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada.
In the UK a cull of chickens at a second poultry farm affected by bird flu was underway as experts battle to prevent the disease from spreading.
The slaughter comes after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that two poultry farms around the one already affected near Dereham, Norfolk, had become infected with avian flu.
Defra said the results of preliminary tests show that both farms have been affected by the less serious H7N3 strain of bird flu, but further tests are being carried out by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency.
Three poultry workers who showed signs of illness after a fellow worker tested positive for bird flu do not have the disease, health officials say.
The trio displayed symptoms of conjunctivitis after a bird flu outbreak at the farm in Norfolk.
It comes after another worker at the farm contracted the less serious H7 strain of the infection in his eyes.