Syria Bans Meat Imports from France over West Nile Fever
Syria has banned the importation of meat, meat products, fish and fowl from France following an outbreak of West Nile fever there, an agriculture ministry official said Wednesday.
Adnan Abdullah, deputy director of the ministry's animal health division, said the ban, in effect since October 15, also applies to pets.
He said the measure is "preventative and temporary" in nature. No outbreaks of the fever have been reported in Syria, and insecticides have been sprayed throughout the country.
Last month, four horses infected by West Nile fever died in southeastern France's Camargue region. This was the first outbreak of the fever in France since 1966.
Abdullah said Syria has also banned meat imports from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, both suffering from an epidemic of Rift Valley Fever, which has killed more than 150 people.
Rift Valley fever affects domestic animals and can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Symptoms include hemorrhagic fever, encephalitis and eye problems, although human deaths are rare, according to experts
West Nile fever resembles malaria, causing influenza-like symptoms and leading to meningitis in more serious cases. There is no known preventive medication against it.
Those most at risk are children under five, the elderly and those with a deficient immune system, in particular those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
At least 19 people have died from West Nile fever in neighboring Israel, where an epidemic has been declared, and more than 200 people diagnosed as having the disease. Syria and Israel have no trade relations –DAMASCUS (AFP)
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