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Iraq bans poultry imports from 24 countries over avian flu threat

Iraq has extended a ban on imports of frozen and live poultry products to cover two dozen countries, including China and South Africa, the government said on Sunday.

Baghdad last month restricted poultry imports from France, where an outbreak of avian flu has been reported.

“The import of poultry and birds of all kinds … as well as both types of eggs (table and hatching), feathers and all products that use poultry or their products … is prohibited,” a government statement said.

The agriculture ministry could not be contacted for immediate comment, but a ministry spokesman previously said that the ban on French poultry was because of avian flu.

The affected exporters are Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, China, Egypt, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Myanmar, Mexico, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Palestine, South Africa, South Korea and Vietnam.

Highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu first infected humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong. Since its re-emergence in 2003 and 2004, H5N1 has spread from Asia to Europe and Africa, causing millions of poultry infections, several hundred human cases and many human deaths.

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