Ostrich Meat Banned In Riyadh

RIYADH, 17 December 2007 — Municipal officials in Riyadh have instructed poultry sellers and restaurants not to sell ostrich meat following the discovery of bird flu among ostriches a couple of days ago.

“Municipal inspectors are currently conducting raids on shops and dining outlets in Riyadh that sell ostrich birds and ostrich meat,” said Suliman Hamad Al-Buthi, chief of the Environmental Health Department at the municipality.

“We’ve already managed to withdraw ostriches and ostrich dishes from 12 restaurants and six shops in the city,” said Al-Buthi, adding that the Agriculture Ministry culled 13,500 ostriches following a new outbreak of bird flu, which was discovered on Thursday evening at a farm in Al-Kharj region, 80 km south of Riyadh.

So far four million birds have been culled following 14 separate outbreaks of bird flu.

“The situation is, however, under control and there have been no reports of the disease spreading to humans in the Kingdom,” said Al-Buthi.

“We’re still receiving emergency calls from Saudis and residents asking us to visit them and find cases of the deadly virus,” he added.

Meanwhile, the five locations designated by Riyadh Municipality for the dumping of poultry have so far received over 5,000 live birds, which have been culled and incinerated.

“Although, the situation is quickly returning to normalcy, we’ll have to wait for at least 60 days after the last detected case of bird flu to declare the city, or for that matter the Kingdom, bird flu free,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Pakistan, six people have been reported to have caught the deadly strain of bird flu and at least one person has died. The WHO said that all six people would be made to undergo a second round of testing to confirm preliminary tests that they have caught the disease.

With bird flu typically flaring during the winter months, the virus has also resurfaced in other parts of Asia. Human deaths have been reported in Indonesia and China. Indonesia, the nation hardest hit by the H5N1 virus, announced its 93rd death on Friday. The WHO report also confirmed Myanmar’s first human case and said that 208 people have so far died worldwide.

Bird flu has also been discovered in birds in Brandenburg, Germany, which was the scene of a widespread bird flu epidemic in 2006. Eleven birds, which were kept in a coop, were killed and a three kilometers security zone was put in place.

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