Dubai, Nov 22 (UNI) A total of 3.2 million birds on ten farms have been culled as a preventive measure to curtail the spread of the H5N1 Avian Flu, Saudi Agricultural Minister Fahd Balghunaim said.
"Birds in seven farms in Riyadh where the virus was detected were culled. The chickens in another three farms were also culled because they were situated hazardously close to the farms where the virus appeared first," Mr Balghunaim told Saudi Television in an interview.
This is believed to be the largest culling in any West Asian country to check bird flu, he added.
The Minister assured that the farmers who had lost huge investments in the poultry sector would be adequately compensated by the Agriculture Ministry in line with the directives issued by the Council of Ministers.
Mr Balghunaim explained that the preventive measures adopted by his Ministry included burning infected poultry, chicken feed and other left overs and sanitisation of the farms.
He attributed the outbreak of the virus in the Kingdom to migratory birds. The Kingdom is part of the flight route of millions of birds migrating from Central Asia and Eastern Europe to Africa, he felt.
"We have even restricted the import of all kinds of birds, including canaries and lovebirds, and a strict ban on hunting of birds is currently in force," said Mr Balghunaim, adding that Falcons are allowed in to the Kingdom after passing through quarantine.
The Minister also warned against people buying live or slaughtered chicken of unidentified origins.
The bird market in Riyadh was being shut down because it had not fulfilled hygienic standards, a report in a Saudi daily said.