ROME, Aug. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Italy stepped up checks at its ports and airports Saturday amid fears that a bird flu endemic might spread into the country.
The sweeping measures signed by Italian Health Minister Francesco Storace on Friday include tightened quarantine of foodstuff and live birds, as well as random examinations of baggage of passengers from countries being seriously affected by the disease.
Poultry and eggs imported from abroad are to be placed under quarantine for 40 days, according to the new measures, which alsoentail the labeling of the origin of imported foul and meat products.
The Italian Health Ministry is also planning a national center to mobilize more veterinarians and police for strict checks on poultry and poultry meat.
The hardened measures came after the Rome-Fiumicino international airport took initial anti-bird flu precautions last week.
Passengers from risk areas may be immediately hospitalized in an infectious diseases clinic if they show signs of respiratory problems, airport authorities said.
Earlier this month, Russia announced that the H5N1 virus had reached its southern republic of Kalmukia on the Caspian Sea. Officials said they believed the virus had been carried west fromAsia by migrating birds.
The H5N1 virus, which can jump from birds to humans, has killedmore than 60 people in Asia since 2003.
It is currently believed to be impossible for the disease to spread between humans, but a genetic mutation of the virus could start a pandemic. Enditem