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EghtesadOnline: Abundant rainfall in Iran this year has increased the risk of the deadly avian flu outbreak in chicken farms, says the head of Iran Veterinary Organization, Alireza Rafieipour.

Rainfall fills wetlands that attract migratory birds, which increase the risk of outbreak, ILNA reported.

According to Rafieipour, Iran has taken measures to contain the virus if an outbreak occurs this year. 

“Vaccination of poultry has been underway since last year [March 2018-19] and other preventive measures, including screening the disease, culling of affected chicken and training of chicken farmers, have been undertaken to minimize the risk of this virus,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

“Vaccination of the highly acute avian flu started in the second half of last year and will go continue for three consecutive years.”

According to the IVO chief, egg-laying hens are prioritized in vaccination since they are more prone to infection.

The country has an avian flu vaccination reserve of 50 million doses in the current year (March 2019-20) which, Rafieipour believes, is more than what the country needs. He stressed that poultry farmers won't be facing a shortage of vaccines.

The provinces of Qazvin, Alborz, Tehran, Qom, East Azarbaijan, Isfahan, Khorasan Razavi, Fars and Markazi are most prone to infection, he added.

Rafieipour says more than four million migrating birds are expected to enter Iran this year, potentially carrying the disease. 

Therefore, chicken farmers, especially owners of egg-laying chicken farms, must be very cautious and implement measures recommended by IVO.

Iranian poultry farms have been dealing with the deadly avian flu, especially the H5N8 strain of the virus, for several years now. Annual outbreaks have done a number on Iran’s poultry industry. 

The H5N8 strain of bird flu infecting Iranian farms is deadly for poultry, but according to World Health Organization, although human infection with the virus cannot be excluded, the likelihood is low.

Some 100 million egg-laying hens were reportedly infected with the deadly avian flu in Iran in the fiscal 2017-18, causing losses exceeding $500 million to poultry farms. It also led to a sharp rise in egg prices and shortage of supply. 

Later, the government moved to meet shortage by importing eggs, mainly from Turkey.

Iran produces over 2 million tons of chicken annually and is among the biggest producer of chicken in the world. Iran’s per capita chicken consumption stands at 26-27 kg per year, while the global average is 13-15 kg.

 

Iran avian flu Rainfall Risk Outbreak Raining Season chicken farms