By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 2/24/2006 | 12:44 am
Morocco has suspended imports of one-day-old genitor birds and poultry from countries where the bird flu virus has been declared, and placed an order for 10 million vaccine doses, MAP news agency reported.
An inter-ministerial crisis management commission (CIGC) in charge of controlling the H5N1 virus said on Monday the government will vaccinate all non-confinable birds to ward off possible infection from migratory birds.
The concerned birds include ostrich, duck, partridge, bustard, and pheasant, MAP news agency said, quoting the CIGC. It added that the supply commission is seeking to purchase more vaccines.
As bird flu has already found its way into the African continent, the Moroccan government has tightened its preventive measures against the disease.
Vigilance is a must, said the commission, although no case has been recorded, noting that on Wednesday alone some 60 analyses were made.
Early February, a group of over 300 cattle egrets was found dead at the Dait Roumi Lake, central Morocco. Moroccan authorities affirmed this was a case of collective intoxication.
The High Commissioner for Water, Forest, and Anti-Desertification, Abdeladim El Hafi, said last week the country is fully prepared to face any potential risk of avian flu.
After the disease reached some countries of the European Union (EU), and recently Nigeria and Egypt, Moroccans have become more concerned about any possible infection of the national poultry.
“Morocco is now in a state of surveillance,” El Hafi said in an interview with Arabic-language daily Assahra Al Maghribia. “This concerns 40 different regions... which receive migrating birds,” he added.
In addition, the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Sea Fisheries, Mohand Laenser, and the Minister of Health Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah assured that no case of avian flu has been registered so far in the Kingdom, drawing attention to the necessity of staying on high alert as to the deadly strain of avian flu, the H5N1 virus.
On Wednesday, Premier Driss Jettou, who along with a number of ministers visited a poultry farm, also affirmed the inexistence of any case of avian influenza in Morocco.
He told the press "the public and the international opinion will be informed automatically and without any hesitation in case the H5N1 virus is detected in Morocco."
Earlier this month, the Health Minister took part in an Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) regional meeting in Tunis to tackle the global bird flu threat.
The five UMA member states considered the challenges imposed by the spread of the disease in the world, and looked into the ways to counter any possible appearance of the H5N1 virus in the region.
Morocco started a preventive policy against bird flu in early October, as the government worked out a national action plan to avert any potential risk of the disease, imposing stricter quarantine measures on poultry farms, border posts and slaughter houses.
Set up in 2004, the commission was created to keep an eye on the development of the disease in the world, report on the situation in infected countries, and guarantee the protection of the country from the disease.
Last month, 33 countries and multilateral institutions met in Beijing, pledging USD 1.9 billion to fight the disease.
Until now, studies showed that there has been no human-to-human contamination.