Bird Flu
        and You

                                                   Current bird embargos


An embargo is defined as a country’s governments order to prohibit or ban trade of certain goods with certain countries.  Embargoes are sometimes done for political or business reasons. In this it is the trade of birds and the reason is an attempt to deter the global spread of the bird flu virus. 

US Embargoes

With the growing concern over the spread of bird flu the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Center of Disease Control (CDC) have been taking steps to restrict the importation of birds from countries where the virus has been discovered.  In the United States birds from the Vietnam, Ukraine, Turkey, Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peoples Republic of China Romania and Russia.  This embargo applies to all poultry, commercial birds, pet birds and unprocessed bird products from the above listed country whether they are dead or alive.  This is inclusive of all poultry products such as hatching eggs. 

The embargo is restricted to all birds including poultry and not other animals because the H5N1 virus or bird flu virus in highly contagious and deadly in the avian species.  The H5N1 at present is limited to the avian species, there is no evidence implicating any other animals.  If this changes the embargo will be widened to include them.  If the infected are allowed into the country, they would infect other birds through their saliva and nasal secretions and feces.  The virus is very contagious; all the bird has to do is come in contact with contaminated surface that have been exposed to an infected bird’s nasal or saliva excretions on material or surfaces, or through direct contact.  The bid flu virus does not exhibit any sustained transmission from bird to any other mammal.  Once the virus adapts to infecting other animals the embargoes may be widened to cover the other animals.  There are exceptions to this embargo, if the importer can prove that the bird products that have been properly processed and the products have no risk in transmitting the flu virus.  If you violate these embargoes in the United States you are subject to criminal and/or civil penalties under the law.

European Embargoes

The European Commission back in October banned the import of live birds and what they considered risky poultry products (fresh poultry meat or untreated feathers) from all outside countries.  This ban doesn’t however affect heat treated poultry as heat treatment which is heat over 70 degrees destroys he avian virus.  In early January the European Union extended its ban on imports of live birds from non-EU countries until the end of May.  This embargo also includes pet birds.  This and all the other embargoes are a part of the measure taken by the EU to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus.  

Embargoes Against the United States.

In the past few years some low pathogenic subtypes of the H7 and H5 bird flu viruses surfaced in the United States.  These outbreaks were controlled by culling the flocks.  These outbreaks lead to some countries issuing embargoes against the US poultry.  China, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the European Union issued embargoes against the US poultry.