The public should not be afraid to eat chicken sold in stores and “there is no shortage of meat,” Agriculture Minister Zeev Boim said in a bid to calm Israelis concerned over the spread of bird flu to local fowl.
During Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Boim updated ministers on the steps the Agriculture Ministry has taken to contain the spread of the lethal virus, which was discovered in local poultry for the first time this weekend.
Boim estimated that within 45 days all affected farms would be decontaminated and would return to being fully operational. The cabinet allotted NIS 15 million to compensate affected farmers, to be distributed by a team made up of staffers from the Agriculture and Finance Ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Health Minister Jacob Edery said that despite the virus’s outbreak throughout the Middle East, his office would not be taking any emergency measures at this stage.
Health Ministry Director-General Professor Avi Yisraeli told the assembled ministers that 30 Health Ministry employees were stationed throughout the south, where the virus has killed hundreds of birds, preparing for the possibility of a human infection. Prof. Yisraeli told Ynet that at the current stage there is no plan to evacuate citizens from the affected areas.
The controlled culling of fowl at the affected farms went into high gear Sunday. Turkeys from kibbutz Nachson and Moshav Sde Moshe were poisoned, and at the kibbutzim of Kissufim and Nirim farmers prepared to poison the poultry’s drinking water.
Kibbutz Nachshon on Sunday morning (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Thousands of turkeys and chicken have already been slaughtered by poisoning their drinking water after fluids were withheld from them for a long period.
The bird carcasses are being deposited in six-meter deep holes insulated with plastic and of lime. On Saturday evening, however, piles of chicken carcasses were briefly left unburied and there were deep concerns that this could have spread the virus further to healthy chickens.
Following the outbreak of the virus, the Agriculture Ministry’s chief veterinarian instructed the Education Ministry to make precise lists of all students who have contact with chicken farming, in and out of school, and to immediately notify the ministry if any changes in students’ health or behavior are noted.
Ronny Sofer, Anat Barshkovsky, Meital Yasur-Beit Or, Moran Zelikovitch and Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to the report