Source AP ©

Russia bans import of poultry from U.S. state of Nebraska as well as Turkey, Japan and Philippines

Russia has temporarily banned the import of poultry from the U.S. state of Nebraska, following Japan, Turkey and the Philippines after a turkey flock in one county tested positive for a mild strain of bird flu

Deputy state veterinarian Del Wilmot said Wednesday that the flock shows no sign of illness and was being prepared for slaughter and entry into the food supply.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and trade groups for the poultry industry have said no human cases of bird flu have ever been traced to eating properly cooked poultry or eggs.

But officials in the four countries are taking no chances. Wilmot said those countries have barred all poultry and related products, such as eggs, coming from Nebraska.

"This ban and other emergency measures were necessary to protect human health and the poultry industry in the Philippines," Arthur Yap, agriculture secretary for the Southeast Asian country, said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The Philippines is among three countries in Asia - the area with the greatest number human cases - to remain free of bird flu since 2003.

Karen Eggert, with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the department has no qualms about sending the Seward County turkeys into the U.S. food supply.

As part of international trade agreements, the USDA notifies foreign countries of the presence of bird flu - and its absence. Once the all-clear notification goes out, the ban will likely be lifted.

The H5N1 virus has killed at least 192 people worldwide since 2003, according to the World Health Organization.

It remains hard for humans to catch, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a global pandemic. So far, most human cases have been traced to contact with infected birds.

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