NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – The public is being urged not to touch or eat wild birds or other animals that are found dead following the outbreak of bird flu in Uganda along the shores of Lake Victoria near Entebbe.
According to the Kenya Veterinary Association, such incidences if encountered should be reported to the nearest veterinary authority.
In a statement, the Association’s National Chairman Samuel Kahariri indicated that any cases of mass bird deaths, animal, both domestic and wild must be promptly reported to the nearest veterinary authority.
“The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is commonly referred to as Avian Flu or Avian Influenza. This is the first time there is an outbreak in the region,” he cautioned.
He stressed that the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza specimen tested affects both humans and animals and causes a high number of deaths in both species.
“HPAI affects humans, birds and animals. However, the species that are so far affected are white winged black tern birds and domestic ducks and chicken,” he said.
“Report any cases of sickness or death of humans to the nearest human health facility or to the Ministry of Health.”
He recommended that law enforcement agencies must be extra vigilant to curb the illegal movement of poultry and their products in Kenya
“The National Government must come in strongly and put in a strong animal disease surveillance system particularly in the hot spots” he said.
He outlined further measures which include the procurement of the requisite protective clothing, disinfectants among other key equipment to avert possible infection and deaths of the veterinary doctors.
“The veterinary doctors and the poultry farming community must be extra vigilant to enhance early warning system,” he stated.
He indicated that county governments need to build their capacities to deal with the looming danger.
“It’s worth noting that veterinary services are currently having less than 50 percent of the requisite labour force out of which about 35 percent will be due for retire in the next three years,” he stated.
He emphasised the need for counties bordering Uganda to hold emergency meetings and lay strategies on how to prevent passage of the disease through the common border.
Uganda announced Sunday it had detected bird flu among migratory birds, without specifying whether it was the particularly virulent H5 strain detected this season in countries worldwide.
The Agriculture Ministry said bird flu had been detected in two spots, one near Entebbe, on the banks of Lake Victoria, and another in the Masaka district about 120 kilometres west of Kampala.
Five domestic ducks and a hen in Masaka were also infected, leading authorities to call for all poultry to be kept inside to avoid further contagion from migratory birds.
In a statement, Christopher Kibazanga, Minister for Agriculture, Animals and Fisheries said local wildlife authorities on January 2 had reported the “mass death of wild birds, seen by fishermen at Lutembe beach at the shores of Lake Victoria near Entebbe”.
Another report arrived on January 13 from the Masaka district and in both cases the specimen tested positive for “the highly pathogenic avian influenza that affects both humans and animals and which causes a high number of deaths in both species.”