Japan stops UK poultry imports after bird flu

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TOKYO, Nov 15 (Reuters) Japan has temporarily suspended imports of all poultry from Britain as a preventive measure after an outbreak of bird flu was reported there this week, a Japanese Agriculture Ministry official said today.

The measure was put in place on Tuesday after Britain confirmed that an outbreak of bird flu reported at a turkey farm in eastern England on Monday was the virulent H5N1 strain.

Japan imported 161,530 live chicks from Britain last year, accounting for about 25 percent of all such imports.

Britain was Japan's second-largest source of live chicks in 2006 after France, but the ministry official said the figures can vary significantly from year to year.

The H5N1 strain has killed more than 200 people worldwide since 2003 and millions of birds have either died from it or been killed to prevent its spread.

REUTERS JT ND0856

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