Flu Scare

July 28, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Saturday banned imports of live birds and chickens from India following an outbreak of bird flu in the neighbouring country, an official said.

“Sri Lanka has banned imports with immediate effect, after we received reports of an outbreak of bird flu in Manipur, India,” said D.D. Wanasinghe, president of the All Island Poultry Association.

Sri Lanka, which has had no reported cases of the H5N1 virus, also imports a large quantity of maize from India.

“The government has not made a decision to ban Indian maize so far. India supplies 90 percent of our maize requirements. The health ministry told us that they would take a decision shortly,” Wanasinghe told AFP.

Foodstuffs such as maize and soya, which Sri Lanka also imports from India, carry a risk of infection because they are grown in fields where chickens live, and crops and packing bags can come in contact with fowl excrement, he said.

Colombo’s decision came after India reported that the Manipur government had ordered the culling of thousands of birds.

Sri Lanka has already lifted the ban on imports of birds and chicken flesh from the US and Australia, but not from