East Africa poultry farmers warned over avian flu outbreak

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Kiambu County farmer Jorgs Mbugua poses with his geese at the farm in Tigoni. Farmers  have been asked to report any signs of avian flu to control its spread. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

Following reports of an outbreak of bird flu in Uganda, East African farmers have been asked to immediately report sudden multiple deaths of the poultry to authorities to stop the spread of the disease.

Europe where the disease is prevent, restricts transporting poultry besides calling for those with more than 50 birds to register with authorities to ease surveillance. 

Besides poultry, bird flu, which is also called avian influenza, affects humans if they come into contact with carcasses, excrements, and any body fluid discharges from sick birds.

Uganda on Sunday reported detection of the bird flu on the banks of Lake Victoria’s Entebbe town and Masaka District, according to the international news agency AFP.

Although the disease is not airborne, wind containing fluid droplets from affected birds, can cause the spread of the disease.

According to animal health officer Jeff Oburu, the virus strains responsible for the diseases are “highly contagious” and if quick action like quarantine is not taken, the whole stock can be lost.

“Apart from reporting to the authorities, farmers must restrict movement of poultry to neighbourhoods where they can spread to or acquire the virus from,” Oburu said.

The disease was noted among migratory birds. According to the ministry of Agriculture in Uganda, one hen and five domestic ducks were infected in Masaka while migratory birds were reported to have succumbed to the virus at the shores of the port tow of Entebbe.

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Migratory birds can spread it to domestic birds, which will also affect others in the surroundings like open air markets. If this happens, the disease can spread through East Africa.

Placing feeds and water where wild birds can access can also increase chances of the spread in an already affected environment. 

The strains include H5N1, H5N2, H5N5, H5N6, H5N9, H7N1, H7N3, H7N7 et H7N8, AFP reports.

Birds suffering from the disease have swollen heads, sneeze, cough, and rattle as well as showing respiratory stress. 

The necks and throat start losing colour, diarrhea, reduced appetite as well as reduced egg production.

Farmers must avoid handling the carcasses without protective gears.  and they must clean themselves up well in case of getting into houses of affected poultry.