ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq has reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic bird flu strand, prompting the government to cull thousands of birds in a bid to stop the disease from spreading in the country.
According to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the virus was discovered at a farm in Diyala province at the end of 2017. The avian influenza strain H5N8 killed 7,250 birds before Iraqi officials culled the remaining 35,750, the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture reported.
The birds showing symptoms of bird flu in the country will simply be killed, not medicated, according to the ministry. They have also indicated they will impose stricter measures to restrict the movement of live poultry in Iraq.
Bird flu virus returned to Iraq in 2016, the first occurrence of the disease in 10 years. At the time, hundreds of thousands of birds were put down as part of protection measures.
Despite the province of Diyala having been liberated from the Islamic State (IS), the area still suffers from instability as reconstruction efforts have yet to gain momentum. Remaining IS militants and lack of infrastructure and basic services impede the full return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the area.
Baghdad had banned the sale of chickens from the Kurdistan Region in the center and south of Iraq in 2016 after two cases of bird flu in Duhok were discovered.
Bird flu, which has affected some 50-some countries, including neighboring countries like Iran, has forced the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to ban chicken products from certain countries.