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Ecuador declares emergency for animal health after bird flu outbreak

QUITO, Nov 30 (Reuters) – The Ecuadorian government declared an animal health emergency on Wednesday due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu, the Agriculture Ministry said.

The bird flu outbreak was first detected over the weekend at a poultry farm in the Andean province of Cotopaxi, south of the country’s capital Quito, prompting quarantine efforts across potentially infected areas.

About 180,000 birds in the area will be culled to prevent the spread of the virus, the ministry said in a statement.

The government has said that bird flu does not pose a risk to people’s health, and has guaranteed the safety of consuming eggs and chicken meat.

“During the next 90 days, it will not be possible to move birds, products and by-products of bird origin such as eggs, hens, chickens, among others, from the farms affected by the outbreak,” the ministry added.

Local authorities said the detected infestation represents only 0.15% of the country’s poultry population, which numbers around 263 million chickens and 16 million laying birds.

The Ecuadorian poultry sector has 1,810 farms and generates $1.8 billion, about 23% of the gross domestic agricultural product (GDP).

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Editing by Bill Berkrot

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