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Saudi Reports Outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu Virus

Saudi Arabia has reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus on a poultry farm, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Tuesday, February 4.

Emergency teams were able to control the epicenter of the outbreak after implementing the emergency measures at the site, said Dr. Abdullah Abal Khail, spokesman of the ministry.

The outbreak, which occurred in Sudair in the central Riyadh region, killed 22,700 birds, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Tuesday, citing a report from the ministry.

The other 385,300 birds in the flock were slaughtered, it said. The case was the first outbreak of the H5N8 virus in Saudi Arabia since July 2018.

Quoting the World Health Organization (WHO) sources, Abal Khail confirmed that the type H5N8 is a strain that affects birds only and is not transmitted to humans.

This strain was registered in the Kingdom at the end of 2017, and it does not pose a threat to public health.

The spokesman called on the poultry farmers to take utmost care and vigil as well as to apply preventive measures when dealing with birds, and not to import new birds for the time being.

He also cautioned against hunting of any sorts of birds and inform in the event of spotting any suspicious cases by contacting the toll free number 8002470000.

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