Health minister says on alert against bird flu after town suffers outbreak

Turkey’s Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoilu said on Monday that his ministry is on alert after bird flu was discovered in a neighborhood in the Bandirma district of Balikesir province.

In remarks to reporters during a visit to the northwestern province of Yalova, Muezzinoilu answered questions about the bird flu that was found in Bandirma’s Edincik neighborhood, which was put under quarantine after the death of around 40,000 chickens in four months.

Muezzinoilu stated that there is no need for extra measures to be taken in addition to those already implemented in Balikesir for now, although the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry and the Ministry of Health are prepared to take more precautions if necessary.

“As you know the possibility of viral infection causes us to always be on alert. We are on alert, especially the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry. … As the Health Ministry, our Public Health Agency is closely following the issue,” the minister said.

Bandirma’s Edincik neighborhood was put under quarantine after officials confirmed the existence of bird flu in chickens there. Access to the neighborhood has been restricted to official vehicles only.

According to the Dogan news agency, the Bandirma Directorate of Food, Agriculture and Livestock launched an investigation in Edincik after the death of around 40,000 chickens in four months’ time. Samples from the chickens were sent to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock’s laboratory in Istanbul, where tests found that the mass deaths of the chickens were due to bird flu.

In a statement on Saturday, District Governor Ali Manti said security measures have been increased at the farms where the deaths took place and that the remaining chickens there were euthanized.

“Entering and leaving the neighborhood has been prohibited except for official vehicles. The samples were sent to the laboratory in Pendik. According to the tests, bird flu was detected. All [necessary] protective measures were taken in the farms where bird flu was detected,” Manti said.

The district governor also stated that chickens at other poultry farms which might have potentially been affected by the virus were also destroyed, including those near farms where the flu was detected.

Disinfection and hygienic measures have been increased in the affected neighborhood, and Balikesir municipal teams have been controlling all entries and exits from the neighborhood. The cinge-Doganpinar Highway was also closed to traffic by the gendarmerie. In addition, hunting activities have also been prohibited in the region.

A total of 70,000 chickens are believed to have been killed due to this incidence of bird flu and the measures taken after the outbreak. Around 2.5 million chickens are raised per year at 132 farms in the Edincik neighborhood.