Egypt on Tuesday banned all poultry imports from France and Germany after the potentially fatal H5N1 strain of bird flu was discovered in birds there.
“The import of birds and poultry of any age from Germany and France is banned from Tuesday,” Cairo airport’s veterinary authority said in a statement to airlines.
Egypt, the country hardest hit by bird flu outside Asia, took the step after positive H5N1 test results last week on three swans in France and 38 birds in Germany.
French and German officials have ordered fresh measures to ensure that chickens and other poultry do not come into contact with wild birds and that they undergo monthly veterinary checks.
It was not immediately known what volume of trade would be affected by the Egyptian ban. Japan on Monday banned imports of German poultry for at least 90 days because of the bird flu scare.
Fifteen people have died from bird flu in Egypt, where its spread is helped by the country’s location on major bird migration routes and the widespread practice of keeping domestic fowl near living quarters.
A total of 191 people worldwide have died of bird flu, according to the World Health Organisation, which reported 317 cases overall in its June 29 tally.
Scientists worry the H5N1 bird flu virus could mutate into a form easily spread among humans, leading to a global pandemic.
The fear stems from past influenza outbreaks, with researchers believing a strain of bird flu related to today’s virus caused the death of tens of millions of people during the 1918 SpanishÂ flu pandemic.