European Union outspreads live bird import ban from other countries

The European Union said Tuesday it will extend the ban on the imports of live birds from non-EU countries until the end of May. It said the extension, which includes imports of pet birds, was recommended by an EU panel of food and animal health experts. The embargo is part of a series of preventive measures against the spread of bird flu and the extension was announced in view of "the current situation in Turkey and other countries where the disease is still present," the EU Commission said in a statement.

The decision comes as EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou heads to Turkey Wednesday for a two-day visit to assess the bird flu outbreak with a team of high level veterinary experts "who will provide support and advice on the control and eradication of the disease," the Commission said.

During his visit he is to meet with Turkey's Agriculture Minister Mehmet Mehdi Eker and other officials overseeing Turkey's handling of the bird flu cases there.

EU officials said the Commission was also preparing to approve added emergency funding of Ђ8 million (US$9.8 million) to help prevent new bird flu cases, reports the AP.

D.M.