The Israeli Agriculture minister Zeev Boim claimed on Sunday that they had eradicated all bird flu in countries poultry. The minister, who came under strong criticism last week for his ministry's response to the bird flu, said that Israel has taken action more quickly than the other countries. At the same time he warned of the possibility of the deadly H5N1 strain can reoccur.
Addressing the cabinet he stated that the cost of compensating farmers for culling of 1.2 million chickens and turkeys at seven farms was 24 million shekels ($5.1 million). He warned of the possibility of another wave of the virus that could hit at any day, especially due to the fact there are cases in Gaza, Jordan and Egypt. Boim said 314,000 birds had been infected in Israel. Officials confirmed the H5N1 virus in poultry for the first time in Israel earlier this month. There have been no human cases.
Prime Minister's Office director-general Ilan Cohen told reporters before Sunday's cabinet meeting that the Israeli government is particularly worried that that the situation in Gaza was worrisome, as the H5N1 strain has also been confirmed in poultry in the densely populated Gaza Strip. In a show of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israel has carried out testing on birds on behalf of the Palestinians and said it would supply Palestinian teams with protective clothing and professional assistance. He felt that Palestinian farmers might not be willing to kill their fowl if they were not compensated, and the flu might spread as a result.
The World Bank announced over the weekend that it was going to funnel $2 million to the Palestinians to pay compensation to chicken farmers. The Palestinian foreign minister has also spoken with the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and requested the organization help in eliminating the virus in the PA. Following which Mr. Annan stated he would direct the World Health Organization and The Agriculture and Food Organization to reinforce the aid teams operating in the PA, in a bid to boost efforts to fight the virus' spread.
Mr. Boim, said that in Israel about 1.2 million poultry from 53 chicken farms in 14 different communities were destroyed and buried in 9 days. He compared, it with 23 days to destroy and bury the poultry at one site in Japan. And 31 days at another site, In Canada, he said, the flu led to the destruction of 13 million birds over a seven-month period, and in South Korea 5 million fowl were destroyed and buried in 3.5 months. He said the Eshkol, Lachish, and Jordan Valley regional councils, with the help of the Defense Ministry, carried out the destroying and burying of the fowl.