Ukraine bans Dutch, German, British poultry imports due to bird flu

An official inspects a crate of ducks during a cull at a duck farm in Nafferton, northern England November 18, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine has banned imports of all live birds and bird products from Britain, the Netherlands and Germany due to bird flu cases in those countries, its veterinary inspectorate said on Wednesday.

"The ban ... will be valid until the international watchdog says these countries are free from bird flu," an inspectorate official told Reuters. Ukraine imports a relatively small volume of birds and poultry from these countries annually.

On Monday a highly contagious form of bird flu was confirmed on an English duck farm, the same form of the virus already discovered in Germany and the Netherlands.

The World Health Organization has warned that whenever bird flu viruses are circulating in poultry, there is a risk of sporadic infections or small clusters of human cases, especially in people exposed to infected birds or contaminated environments.

Human cases of bird flu are rare, however, and the virus does not now appear to transmit easily from person to person.

According to WHO data covering the period from 2003 until Oct. 2, 2014, there were 668 laboratory-confirmed human cases of bird flu infection officially reported from 16 countries. Among these cases, 393 died.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Mark Heinrich)