Vietnam halts US poultry imports to prevent bird flu spread

Vietnam has halted the import of poultry from two US states as of March 10 where bird flu viruses have been rampaging, the Vietnamese government said on March 11.

The temporary ban on raw poultry and byproducts is in place as the avian influenza virus subtype H7 and the H5N2 strain have been roaming in the states of Wisconsin and Tennessee, the government said in a statement, citing an agriculture ministry's directive signed on March 10.

The ministry has asked the animal health department to closely inspect all cargoes from the two US states which have been loaded before March 10 for delivery to Vietnam, the statement said.

Chickens feed from a row of feed bins at a farm in the US in a file photo. Photo by Reuters/Randall Hill

The suspension may affect supply to restaurants in major cities, but it may provide some relief to domestic chicken. According to some media reports, local chicken prices fell to a 10-year low last month due in part to imports from the US.

An avian flu outbreak emerged on March 6 in Tennessee, with the low pathogenic H7N9 found infecting 16,500 birds, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a report posted on March 10 on the website of the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

The outbreak marks the first detection of the H7N9 strain in commercial poultry in the US this year, it said. Tennessee has earlier this month reported the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H7 on chicken.

The USDA also said March 6 that the low pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N2 was detected among 84,000 turkeys in Wisconsin.

Vietnam, where seven provinces across the country have reported H5N1 and H5N6 bird flu outbreaks among chickens and ducks in recent weeks, has been stepping up measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Last month, health and agriculture ministries issued warnings regarding the H7N9 virus, a rare strain first detected in China in March 2013. It has infected 460 people in China between September 2016 and February 2017. Vietnam has not reported any cases of the strain.

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