Import of poultry products and live birds from Austria, Slovakia, Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina has been banned by the Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce following reports of bird flu infection in these areas. An amendment has been made in the Import Policy Order 2005 following issue of the notification by the Pakistan government.
The decision was taken at a high level meeting conducted by the ministry of health in co-ordination with the ministry of food and agriculture Last month, similar ban was placed on import of live birds and poultry products from India, Iran and France, owing to the bird flu threat. Ban on captive live birds was also placed, involving China, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and Cambodia.
Cooked poultry products from Malaysia and South Africa were banned for import last week. Although no cases of bird flu has been reported in Pakistan, the need for adopting precautionary measures cannot be ruled out.
Expansion of disease testing facilities and improved surveillance measures has been planned. Furthermore, health workers and those who work in close contact with poultry would be instructed on bird flu preventive measures. Six rapid response teams have been set up as a part of the national strategy targeted at control and prevention of avian influenza.
A central laboratory, under the food and agriculture has about 12 surveillance teams across the country. It is well equipped to diagnose bird flu infection, if any. Samples of poultry from dead birds at Charsada and Abbottabad have been sent to the British labs for further analysis, the results of which are awaited.
The provincial and district governments have been urged to closely interact with poultry farmers and activate their local livestock for improved bird flu monitoring and surveillance. With over 3000 veterinarians across and such stringent measures, a bird flu outbreak in Pakistan is very unlikely.