Germany to add checks in effort to stop spread of bird flu

Germany will step up measures to prevent the spread of bird flu, with authorities asking people entering the country whether they are carrying poultry or poultry products with them, Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer said Wednesday.

Seehofer also said Germany would ask the European Union to impose such a measure at its borders and points of entry.

He also said &to=' target=_blank>Germany would likely require all poultry to be kept indoors this spring to prevent bird flu in the country. Seehofer said that a new requirement would "most likely" be introduced, after a previous ban on keeping farm birds outside expired in December.

A decision on another such order was to be taken by the end of the month, Seehofer told reporters.

"We intended to strengthen the measures we have already taken, and also introduce further steps" Seehofer said at a news conference. "We will meet with resolve the greatest danger of the spread of the virus through poultry and poultry products."

German bird owners were required to keep their animals indoors late last year as the government took a similar precaution during the migratory season for wild birds, fearing they could infect domestic fowl. The next confinement period would likely be from March 1 to April 30, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

Seehofer said later, after a meeting with regional officials, that Germany would step up its measures against the import of diseased poultry, which he called the chief risk factor for the disease spreading to Germany. Steps would include more efforts to inform travelers, including materials translated into Turkish, he said.

Several of Germany's 16 states already have increased checks on travelers entering the country from Turkey, where several cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus have been confirmed.

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