Baghdad, Jan 16 (IANS) A bird flu outbreak has been detected in Iraq's Salahudin province, authorities said, adding that all protective measures have been taken to contain the spread of the virus.
"The laboratory tests proved that a poultry in Samarra city, some 120 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, was infected with bird flu," Ammar Khalil, governor of the province, said in a statement on Friday.
Khalil said that about 60,000 chickens were infected with bird flu in the city, calling on poultry owners and citizens in Samarra to be on the highest alert to confront the virus, according to the statement.
In a separate statement, the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture said that it had taken all protective measures to prevent the spread of the detected H5N8 strain of avian influenza virus to other poultry fields in Salahudin.
It said that after the discovery of the infection in two poultry fields in Samarra, the Ministry's Veterinary Department held a meeting, and an emergency plan was approved to control the disease.
The Ministry pointed out that all the chickens in the fields infected with the virus were culled, and the fields' halls were sanitised, in addition to blocking and scanning 3 km of areas surrounding the fields.
Since it was first reported in Hong Kong in 1997, the disease has been responsible for human outbreaks and deaths in 16 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization.