nearly waiting for eight long years, Pakistan got a
green signal from Saudi Arabia that it would restore
the import of poultry products from Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia had suspended import of hatching eggs
and day old chicks from Pakistan in 2005-2006's
eruption of bird flu disease in Pakistan.
Pakistan's poultry sector would now get handsome
export orders of eggs and chicks from Saudi Arab
after a team of Saudi technical experts from Saudi
Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) visited different
poultry farms in the country to inspect standard of
The delegation also visited National Reference
Laboratory for Poultry Diseases and National
Veterinary Laboratory situated at National
Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad and
expressed satisfaction over their standard.
Pakistan succeeded in taking concrete preventive and
precautionary measures successfully to contain H5NI
virus in the country since 2005.
The country is expected to fetch more than $1
billion if export is started to Saudi Arab, Gulf
States and other neighbouring countries.
Standard of poultry facilities in Pakistan are of
standard like in any European country.Due to
concerted efforts Pakistan declared freedom from
bird flu disease with effect from September 22, 2008
and since then poultry industry had been growing at
an annual rate of 13 percent.
Bird flu history and effects: Following reports of
bird flu in Mirpur and Dhadiyal in Azad Jammu and
Kashmir (AJK), in Sindh and other parts of the
country the poultry sales declined by around 50
percent on domestic consumers and around 40 percent
as commercial consumer front.
Around 60 percent clients of poultry were hotels and
commercial food outlet while 25 percent were
domestic consumers in the country. The investment in
poultry trade was around Rs 90 billion. The poultry
sector suffered a loss of over Rs 18 billion on
account of outbreak of bird flu as it has also hit
the retail sales of the chicken in the country.
The outbreak was potentially devastating for the
poultry industry where chicken accounts for around
45 percent of total meat consumption by the 150
Punjab suffered most of the financial loss while the
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) also witnessed a loss of
around Rs 80 million on account of breeder chicks,
as it has been the major producer of parent birds.
The bird flu also downed the prices of chicken meat
by Rs 60 a kilogramme during bird flu period and at
the same time rates of per chick witnessed almost Rs
6 at wholesale.
The government authorities slaughtered more than
280,000 chickens at the affected farms in NWFP,
Punjab and other parts of the country.
The first sample from Pakistan was sent for
laboratory test to London on Feb 27, 2006.
More than 13,000 leading breeders catering the
customers in four provinces with a total production
of more than 5 million birds, including commercial
broiler and layer (with a ratio 12:1) per annum
respectively suffered financial loss.
The Punjab shares 70 percent of the production and
NWFP is the principle parents' breeder in the
country due to suitable climate.
A decline of some 4.5 million parents' birds
was witnessed in KP after the bird flu and the
breeders and farmers of Punjab and Sindh faced
severe shortage of chickens.
The disease did not transmit from human to human and
globally no one has ever been infected by eating
chickens. Chicken cooked above 70 degree centigrade
is safe for consumption.
Even no case of bird flu in humans was detected and
sanitary and farm workers had tested negative.
In Karachi: The outbreak of bird flu H5N1 in Karachi
was not threatening as the birds had been killed
besides the site of the incident had also been
Following quarantine and other measures, the
affected site was disinfected and the remaining
birds were killed. In Gadap area some 5,500 birds
had been killed and buried in order to avoid any
danger to other farms.
Traditionally there is no harm to use birds as we
cook them on high temperature and according to World
Health Organisation (WHO) high temperature cooking
is safe in such cases.
Presently, breeding and layer birds at the farms are
totally vaccinated on regular basis. The poultry
sales in Karachi declined by around 20 percent.
World history: Bird flu emerged in December 2003
when South Korea confirmed a highly contagious type
of bird flu at a chicken farm near Seoul. The
overall human death toll from the virus confirmed by
the World Health Organisation (WHO) currently stands
On January 18 the same year, international donors
pledged $1.9 billion to combat the spread of bird
flu at a conference in Beijing.
On January 29, H5N1 was confirmed in a sample taken
from poultry in northern Cyprus and on February 8,
the first African cases of the deadly H5N1 strain
were detected in poultry in the northern Nigerian
states of Kano, Kaduna and Plateau.
Italy said six wild swans found in Sicily and on the
southern mainland had tested positive for H5N1. In
Greece, three swans found in south of Thessaloniki
tested positive for H5N1. These were the first known
cases with the deadly strain of the disease in the
Some reasons behind: Due to a different social setup
and migratory birds route, bird flu outbreak in
Pakistan was not as severe as in other countries.
Following reports of bird flu in Mirpur and Dhadiyal
in AJK, bordering Indian Kashmir, the government
sent an official team of livestock and poultry
division to affected areas to investigate if the
birds had died of avian influenza.
There are 12 birds' migratory routes and Pakistan
comes under route four while India and Iran are
situated on different migratory route.
The outbreak of bird flu in India and Iran was due
to the migratory birds, which travel from Europe
through Russia, Siberian region, Turkey and Iran
The pig-farming and turkey farming, is the main
source of spreading this virus in poultry and in
those societies where this practice is going on, the
spread is more imminent, but presence of the virus
in south Asia was not much possible.
Measures taken: Around 145,5571 samples were
collected at random from different parts of Punjab
and other parts of the country for laboratory tests,
but not a single clue of H5N1 had been found.
The consumers' confidence in commercial poultry meat
declines with the reports the virus was found in
India and Iran.
After outbreak of virus reports in India, ministry
of health geared up the monitoring system and
focusing more on preventive measures.
Pakistan has the capacity to diagnose bird virus and
a number of laboratories in different parts of the
country were already active.
Outcome of the flu reports: Confirmation from
Britain of presence of the deadly H5N1 strain of
bird flu hit sales of chicken, pushing the prices of
chicken at retail level down by Rs 40 a kilogramme
and chick at wholesale level by Rs 6 a kilogramme.
The virus was detected in chickens at two farms in
KP, which had been sealed off.
He said more people had completely stopped buying
chicken due to heightened fears about bird flu.
Except the infection of H5N1 in two farms in KP, no
case of bird flu was reported anywhere in the
Added factor's facing loss: Devastating earthquake
of October 8, 2005 caused damaged to about $540
million covering crops, livestock and irrigation
infrastructure of agriculture sector in KP.
Major damage struck to the livestock and livestock
housing, crops and stores and irrigation in the
affected areas of KP and AJK.
According to official sources earthquake caused
widespread damage to life, buildings, roads and
public utilities such as electricity and
Many of the sheep and goat were on their way back
from Alpine pastures when the earthquake struck.
Buffaloes, cattle and poultry, which are usually
kept in covered pens next to the houses, suffered
even more severe losses as structures collapsed on
top of them.
The western economic factors created fear in common
people against poultry meat otherwise H5N1 virus is
not as lethal as it is thought to be.