Iraq has ‘chronic’ bird flu problem

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Iraq has a 'lack of commitment' to biosecurity, according to an FAO official in the Middle East
Iraq has a 'lack of commitment' to biosecurity, according to an FAO official in the Middle East

Related tags Bird flu Avian influenza Influenza Livestock Poultry

Iraq’s inability to tackle the cause of bird flu means the deadly virus  is likely to spread across neighbouring countries, according to an expert on animal diseases.

The H5 avian influenza (AI) strain tearing through Iraq is “one of the biggest problems that threatens the ​[country’s] poultry industry​”, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Hilal Mohammed, projects manager at the FOA in Iraq, said the possibility of the H5 AI strain spreading from Iraq to other countries was “very likely​”. There is a “lack of commitment​” to implement biosecurity measures and this, coupled with a lack of control at Iraq’s borders, means bird flu is a “chronic problem​” likely to proliferate.

The steps taken by the ​[Iraqi] Ministry of Agriculture after the detection of the H5 [strain] is culling the birds and the closure of poultry farms without addressing the real cause of the disease,​” Mohammed told GlobalMeatNews.

Infected farms: 11

Earlier this week the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reported that 11 farms in Baghdad and Wasit had been hit with the bird flu​ outbreak that killed over 500,000 birds. A further 2.3m birds have been culled to prevent the disease from spreading.

Mohammed explained that the poultry industry remained important to the national economy, but the H5 strain had caused “considerable economic loss”.

This comes has no help to the country’s embattled economy, which is already grappling with the falling price of oil and a bloody conflict against the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

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