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Israel Facing Epornitic of Avian Influenza


Migratory cranes are dying in large numbers in the Hula Lake Reservoir in the north of Israel.  Approximately 5,000 dead birds were recovered through Sunday December 26th.   In addition dead cranes were recorded in the Beit She’an Valley and a dead pelican diagnosed with H5N1 was identified in the Hefer Valley in Central Israel.


Due to some deficiency in biosecurity, the infection was introduced into flocks at the Margaliot Moshav located near the Hula Reserve.  To date 560,000 laying hens have been depleted along with turkeys and hens in nearby units.  It is calculated that Israel will have to import as many as 1.5 million dozen eggs each month to compensate for depleted flocks. 

To date authorities in Israel have recorded outbreaks among 20 commercial farms resulting in depletion of 364,000 turkeys, 650,000 egg-producing hens and 65,000 broilers and parent flocks to be detailed in a subsequent posting


The Times of Israel stated that the disease was introduced into the Hula Reserve from the commercial unit in Margaliot by a feed delivery vehicle.  Realistically the reverse  occurred with the migratory birds serving as the source of virus. 


Cranes appear to be highly susceptible to H5N1 since India has recorded high mortality in migratory demoiselle cranes (Anthropoides virgo) at the Sambhar Lake in Ragasthan State.


A discordant note as reported in the media is that Ministry of Agriculture advised consumers to thoroughly cook eggs to avoid infection with avian influenza.  This advice is more applicable to eggborne Salmonella infection that is currently prevalent in Israel. It is generally accepted that H5N1 avian influenza is not transmissible to humans through consumption of eggs.