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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Nepal bans Europe poultry imports
Vets destryoing fowl in Macedonia
Nepalese officials will monitor migratory birds in the forthcoming winter season
Nepalese authorities say they have banned imports of European poultry following recent incidences of bird flu cases there.

Officials in Kathmandu say the decision was taken to prevent transmission of the virus into the country.

No incidence of bird flu has been reported in Nepal yet.

Thousands of migratory birds fly from across the Himalayas in the north to southern plains of Nepal and India every year to avoid extreme cold.

Quarantine checks

A senior animal health department official, Dhan Raj Ratala, told the BBC that a nearly two-year-old ban on import of bird and bird products from countries in East and South East Asia was still in force.

Principally an avian disease, first seen in humans in Hong Kong, 1997
Almost all human cases thought to be contracted from birds
Isolated cases of human-to-human transmission in Hong Kong and Vietnam, but none confirmed

That ban was imposed after there were reports of bird flu in East Asian countries including China.

Dr Ratala said the government imported birds mostly from the UK and Germany.

"Nepal has decided to stop all imports from Europe since outbreaks have been reported," Dr Ratala was quoted saying by the Associated Press news agency.

He said the government has alerted quarantine check posts along its borders with India and China so as to prevent transmission of the deadly virus into the country.

The authorities said they have put in place a number of measures to stop possible transmission of the virus and are conducting random checks among birds, especially chicken, in various parts of the country.

Contingency plans

Nepalese officials say a 'red alert' has been declared in 16 northern districts of the country -- some of them bordering with the Tibetan Autonomous region of China.

Dr Ratala said trained government officials would be monitoring migratory birds in the forthcoming winter season.

However, imports of poultry from India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will continue, Dr Ratala said.

Nepalese officials say the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has not been reported in the country as yet and that they are working on contingency plans as per the World Health Organisation guidelines.

The majority of people in Nepal live on agriculture and livestock.

Bird flu has killed at least 60 people in Asia since December 2003.

It has also now spread to Europe, with cases confirmed in Romania, Turkey and Russia, and suspected in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.

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