Uganda On Alert as Bird Flu is Confirmed in DRC

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In short
The Food and Agricultural Organisation this week confirmed outbreaks of Bird Flu in southern Africa so far reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The organisation warned that the spread of avian influenza has far-reaching animal health, food and nutritional security and socio-economic impacts in the Sub region.

The Ministry of Agriculture is on alert over the reported outbreak of bird flu in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.

A highly placed source at the Ministry of Agriculture told URN that Uganda is keenly following developments in DRC and Southern Africa where the first ever confirmation of outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been reported.

The source who preferred anonymity said there is coordination ongoing to prepare response in the event that it spreads to Uganda.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation this week confirmed outbreaks of Bird Flu in southern Africa, so far reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The organisation warned that the spread of avian influenza has far-reaching animal health, food and nutritional security and socio-economic impacts in the Sub region.

Chimimba David Phiri - the FAO sub regional coordinator for Southern Africa said the potential losses due to the devastating nature of the disease and impacts on trade in poultry are a further blow in a region that is struggling to recuperate from the effects of consecutive droughts and other emerging high impact trans-boundary crop pests and animal diseases such as the fall army worm and foot and mouth disease.

Phiri said the outbreak of the avian influenza in Southern Africa was predictable after some countries in North, West and Eastern Africa confirmed its presence earlier this year. He urged all countries already infected and those that are still free but are at risk of infection, to move swiftly and in coordinated manner, to control the disease.

Uganda is among the countries that had earlier this year reported outbreak of Bird Flu The disease caused by migratory birds did not however spread further but poultry farmers suffered losses when Kenya stopped importation of poultry and poultry products from Uganda.

Chimimba David Phiri said responding to the avian influenza outbreak requires national authorities to be better prepared and entails strengthening the existing information and surveillance systems.

He said the recent emergence of Bird Flu, as well as that of the fall army worm late last year through to 2017, have revealed that most countries do not have updated contingency plans.

"Avian Influenza is a virus of birds causing illness and death not only in domesticated birds, but also in wild birds. When an outbreak occurs, it becomes difficult to contain as it spreads rapidly through poultry flocks" said Phiri.

Avian influenza can spread through direct contact between susceptible and infected birds, or contact with their secretions and excretions such as respiratory discharges or feces.

The disease can also spread through contaminated feed, equipment, clothing and footwear.
It attacks both free-range family poultry and intensively reared birds on large-scale commercial production sites with the same lethal result.