MEWA reports H5N8 avian influenza case in Riyadh

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RIYADH — The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) stated here Friday that one infection case of H5N8 avian influenza virus was reported at Azizia bird market in Riyadh, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said. The case was detected following keen surveillance and active examination processes of bird markets in the Kingdom.

Dr. Abdullah Abalkhail, spokesman of the ministry, said that the ministry’s branch here, in collaboration with the security authorities, Riyadh Municipality, Riyadh Directorate of Health Affairs, and the Ministry of Finance have applied the Contingency Plan immediately after discovering the infection in ducks, which are virus carriers. Symptoms of the infection are difficult to detect in ducks.

The ministry has closed the bird market, prevented the movement of birds in the market, and disposed of the birds in a safe and efficient manner, as directed by Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulrahman, acting emir of Riyadh Region.

Abalkhail stressed that the ministry, in collaboration with the relevant government sectors, has succeeded in stopping the spread of the disease that has not been proven to be transmitted to humans. It has also controlled the transportation of birds and bird projects by implementing biosecurity measures, and disposing of birds in the infected areas safely, pointing out that the last case recorded was on April 17, 2018.

He called on bird and poultry keepers not to go to Azizia bird market during this period until the site is effectively cleared. This advisory has been issued to protect their birds from getting infected by the H5N8 avian influenza virus, which is a respiratory disease that spreads rapidly among birds. He urged all to report any other cases by calling the emergency number (8002470000). — SPA


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