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Uganda Ministry issues statement on avian flu

Uganda Ministry issues statement on avian flu

On January 15, 2017, the Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) sent an alert to the public on confirmed cases of the avian flu in wild birds.

The statement reads:

The MAAIF has informed the public that: fishermen reported to the management of Uganda Wild Life Education Center Entebbe about the massive death of wild birds around Lutembe beach. The report was received by the Commissioner Animal Health of MAAIF on the 2/01/2017. This prompted an integrated team from MAAIF, MoH, Ministry of Water and Environment; Ministry of Internal Affairs Government analytical laboratory; Uganda Wildlife Authority; Walter Reed Project Makerere University; and UWEC to immediately visit the area to establish the cause of this death and collect samples for laboratory analysis and disease detection. On the 13/01/2017, another report was received from Masaka about the death of wild ducks and wild birds in Bukakata sub-county, Bukibanga Parish, Kachanga village, and carcasses of dead wild birds were delivered to the National Veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Entebbe, and all results have been positive. There is still continuous death of wild ducks and other wild birds along the shores and islands of Lake Victoria in Masaka and Wakiso districts, according to the reports and sites visited. This is already a big threat to over thirty million domestic poultry in the Uganda. We suspect that the avian flu has been brought about by migratory birds from Europe or the Americas where cases of avian flu have been recently reported.

The infected birds can be a source of infection to our poultry species (chicken, ducks, and geese). The infected poultry or wild birds can also be a source of infection to human beings. The general public has been warned to avoid touching any live or dead wild birds. Although the threat to human health is currently very low, we do not want you to take any risks as the virus has been found to cause deaths in human beings elsewhere.

Them is emphasizing enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds, to help protect them from the virus causing the disease. Keepers of poultry and other captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. The ministry is continuing to monitor the situation closely and has increased its surveillance activity, while keepers are being urged to reinforce biosecurity measures on their premises.

Even when birds are housed, a risk of infection remains, so this must be coupled with good biosecurity – for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement, and minimizing contact between poultry and wild birds, as well as restricting human visits to farms.

Poultry keepers have also been advised to be vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and any wild birds, and seek prompt advice from their area veterinarian if they have any concerns.

Measures to help prevent avian flu by maintaining good biosecurity at private premises:

• Cleansing and disinfecting clothing, footwear, equipment, and vehicles before and after contact with poultry – if practical, use disposable protective clothing.

• Reducing the movement of people, vehicles, or equipment to and from areas where poultry are kept to minimize contamination from manure, slurry, and other products and using effective vermin control.

• Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting housing at the end of a production cycle.

• Keeping fresh disinfectant at the right concentration at all points where people should use it, such as farm entrances and before entering poultry housing or enclosures.

• Minimizing direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds, including making sure all feed and water is not accessible to wild birds.

• Avoid sleeping in same houses with birds.

Clinical signs that poultry keepers should look for in their birds include a swollen head, discoloration of neck and throat, loss of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhea, and fewer eggs laid – although these vary between species of bird.

• Where avian influenza is not strongly suspected, but cannot be ruled out, poultry keepers may wish to liaise with their area veterinarian to take samples and submit to the testing laboratory in Entebbe.

• If poultry keepers or the general public find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese, or ducks), or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, they should report them.

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