Czech poultry markets, outside flocks banned over bird flu

PRAGUE, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The Czech Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday shut poultry markets and exhibitions and banned farmers from keeping flocks of fowl outside after fresh cases of bird flu were detected in the country's south.

Veterinarians confirmed the H5N8 avian influenza in seven wild ducks and swans near the city of Ceske Budejovice and in the district of Pisek south of Prague, adding to previous cases in wild swans and one domestic poultry flock detected in the past week.

The ministry said it was also putting limits on moving poultry around and selling birds from registered large farms to small keepers.

The ban on keeping flocks outside applies to registered, larger flocks. The ministry urged all keepers to make sure that flocks do not come into contact with wild birds.

The H5N8 flu is lethal to birds but is not known to be transmissible to humans. It has been spreading rapidly in Europe, putting the poultry industry on alert after previous outbreaks led to the culling of tens of millions of birds. (Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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