Four cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been reported in Saudi Arabia, according to the Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture.
Outbreaks of the bird flu strain H5N8 hit the country’s capital city, Riyadh, over the weekend.
The Saudi government said it has launched plans to “coordinate efforts” between the ministry and the private sector to address the recent bird flu outbreaks in order to tackle the problem with the “utmost seriousness and diligence”.
To do this, veterinary teams from the Ministry of Environment Water & Agriculture have already carried out 25 inspections of markets and farms across the country to assess the industry’s disease prevention systems.
Thousands of birds culled
The ministry did not confirm if livestock had been culled, but local news, citing a report from the government-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA), claimed nearly 3,000 chickens had been killed to clear infected farms of the disease.
Regional news organisations have also claimed a transport ban was imposed on poultry farms, as Saudi toughens its disease prevention plans.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) could not be reached for comment on this at the time of writing.
However, the latest outbreak of H5N8 comes after the OIE reported a re-emergence of bird flu in the country on 22 December 2017. Here, over 60,000 birds were culled when the strain was identified on a commercial farm in Riyadh.