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EU bans wild bird imports to prevent avian flu spread

The European Union has banned all commercial imports of live wild birds in a bid to keep avian influenza from spreading into the 25-nation bloc. The ban comes as media reported the virus was detected in dead migratory birds found at a lake in Germany. Tuesday's decision follows the discovery two days ago of the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu in a South American parrot that died in quarantine in the U.K. The ban doesn't affect imports of fewer than six pet birds by individuals, provided they have been in quarantine or vaccinated against bird flu. “These measures aim to strengthen further the EU's defenses against avian influenza,” the European Commission, the bloc's executive, said in a statement issued yesterday in Brussels. Officials are scrambling to prevent the virus from spreading to Europe to safeguard public health and the region's €14.5 billion ($17.5 billion) chicken, turkey and duck industry.