A shortage of millions of eggs is anticipated because of the outbreak of pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in Israel, according to Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
About 200 million eggs are consumed in Israel each month, and according to Xinhua news agency, there would – at present – be a 14 million egg shortage due to avian influenza. To help ease this shortage, Israeli agricultural minister, Oded Forer, has decided to immediately open the Israeli market to duty-free imports of 70-100 million eggs.
The avian influenza outbreak has killed more than 5,200 migratory cranes in Israel. “This is the worst blow to wildlife in the country’s history,” Environment Minister, Tamar Zandberg, tweeted.
According to senior scientist at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Uri Naveh, the avian influenza virus attacks Israel every year, but this year’s outbreak is substantially larger than what has been previously seen. The 5,200 cranes died that died is an “exceptional” figure according to the scientist.
The epidemic is spreading in the Hula nature reserve, in the north of the country between the Lebanese mountains and Naftali. The Hula Valley is part of the route taken by the 500,000 common cranes that migrate annually.
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The Times of Israel reports that, annually, around 100,000 cranes visit the Hula Valley, with some 40,000 staying in Israel until early March when they join those returning from Africa to fly north to Europe and Asia to nest.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority said 1 in 5 of the wild cranes living in or migrating through Israel have been infected with the bird flu, with authorities expecting to have to remove 25 to 30 tonnes of carcasses.