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SOMALIA - Dead birds raise avian flu fears

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  • SOMALIA - Dead birds raise avian flu fears

    Dead birds raise avian flu fears in Somalia
    22 Nov 2006 14:19:33 GMT
    Source: Reuters

    By Ibrahim Mohamed

    JOWHAR, Somalia, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Dozens of dead birds in a flood ravaged village in Somalia have raised fears of an avian flu outbreak in a country with limited health facilities, officials said on Wednesday.

    The carcasses of the dead birds, which were thought to be ducks, were found in Elbaraf, 55 km (34 miles) north of the town of Jowhar, local veterinarian Ali Hamud told Reuters.

    "We burnt 51 carcasses," Hamud said.

    Scientists have suggested that migratory birds play an important role in the spread of the deadly H5N1 flu virus, which originated in Asia and has killed more than 150 people worldwide so far.

    Hamud said most of the birds found had tags around their feet and necks indicating they had been come via the "Orient Institute" in Zagreb, Croatia.

    Somalia is already battling floods that have submerged villages and farmland and washed away bridges and food stocks.

    "We don't have the capacity to test the birds here for bird flu or other diseases. Floods are already ravaging villages here and the last thing we want is an epidemic," Hamud said.

    Resident Nur Jimale said the birds were spotted 10 days ago in flocks of hundreds.

    "We fear the unusual birds have brought diseases with them. I just saw their carcasses lying everywhere yesterday. I have never seen such birds in Somalia," he said.

    Already one of the poorest countries in Africa, Somalia has lost tens of thousands of people to conflict and famine since 1991.
    ...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. - Sherlock Holmes

  • #2
    Re: SOMALIA - Dead birds raise avian flu fears

    It does not necessarily mean that the strain of H5N1 that killed them (if that's what it was) came from Zaghreb, Croatia--that's just where the ducks came from, but it does go to show the degree to which birds mix--in ways hard to plan for. In other words, ducks in Croatia are regularly mixing with birds in random places like Somalia and elsewhere. Bird flu has been confirmed multiple times in Zaghreb however. Below are a couple examples.

    People's Daily Online
    UPDATED: 16:25, April 08, 2006
    Croatia confirms first bird flu case in capital

    Croatia confirmed Friday night the first bird flu case in the capital of Zagreb after a dead swan found there tested positive for the H5 strain of bird flu virus.

    The dead swan was found on the shores of the Sava River in southeast Zagreb last weekend, said Mladen Pavic, spokesman for the Croatian Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Ministry.

    Tests confirmed that the dead bird had contracted the H5 type of bird flu virus, but test findings as to whether it was the lethal H5N1 strain would be released on Sunday or Monday, reports from Zagreb quoted him as saying.

    Quarantine officers found no other birds after combing the area within a radius of three km of the locale, Pavic said, adding that they would continue to monitor the situation there closely.

    Croatia, which lies under one of the main flight paths for migratory birds, reported its first bird flu case last October when H5N1 was found in six wild swans in the eastern part of the country.

    In late February this year, the disease struck the country's southern coastal region, where two dead swans were tested positive for H5N1.

    Croatian authorities immediately adopted a series of precautionary measures to curb the spread of the disease, including ordering farmers to keep their poultry indoors to try to prevent them from contracting the virus from wild birds.

    The authorities also halted poultry product imports from bird flu-hit nations, including Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Slovenia.

    Source: Xinhua
    <b>Croatia - Zagreb</b><br>
    October 26th, 2005<br>
    <a href=>H5N1 Confirmed</a><br>
    October 24th, 2005<br>
    <a href=>OIE Report for Zagreb case</a><br>
    H5 confirmed. Further tests needed.
    October 15th, 2005<br>
    <a href=>Dead birds found</a><br>
    4 sterling birds found dead in a village near Zagreb. Cause unknown.


    • #3
      Re: SOMALIA - Dead birds raise avian flu fears

      Somalia: Strange Flocks of Birds Marked With Croatia Are Seen in Somalia

      November 22, 2006

      Uprecedented Flocks of birds whose legs were tied with strings marked with Croatia has been seen in villages located in Somalia's Middle Shabelle province, central Somalia under the control of Union of Islamic Courts.

      The news has emerged after the Courts administrators in central Somalia sent local medical experts to validate that large numbers of flocks of Croatian birds are in Somalia.

      Residents said they fear that these birds, which they said looked like ducks, might carry diseases like bird flue with them.

      Muhidin Abdi Farey, the Islamic Courts head for social affairs in El Baraf village, has told Shabelle Radio by the phone that the birds were seen for the first time on 14 November adding: "Days after they arrived in the village, they began to die. These birds had each of their legs tied with strings written in Croatia and they numbered approximately 50".

      This is however the first time that such stray animals were seen in Somalia.

      Despite the marking on each leg of these birds, the Union of Islamic Courts who sent expert to area have not yet announced any test results of what diseases these birds carry with them -if they investigated.

      Dr. Abdulahi Hussein Moalim, the director of Jawhar hospital in Middle Shabelle province, merely told Shabelle that he and other experts went to the area, indicating that the birds were stray ones or got lost.

      However, the question that remained asked by residents is: Why have the they begun dying?

      Dr. Moalim said, "If the birds had had bird flue, already our local birds would have died in large numbers".
      “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
      Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

      ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ ~~~


      • #4
        Re: SOMALIA - Dead birds raise avian flu fears

        From IRIN:

        SOMALIA: Unidentified birds raise avian flu fears

        [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

        NAIROBI, 23 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Dozens of unidentified birds have been found dead in a village in the Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, raising fears of an outbreak of bird flu in the country, according to local sources in the regional capital Jowhar, 90 km north of the national capital, Mogadishu.

        "Fifty-two birds arrived in the village of Eil Baraf [50 km dead north of Jowhar] 10 days ago," said Muhammad Ibrahim Malimow, a local resident. "They looked like ducks, so no one paid them any attention until they started dying."

        He said this raised fears among the locals who "raised the alarm".

        According to specialists, migratory birds play an important role in the spread of the deadly H5N1 flu virus.

        Muhammad Ali, a veterinarian of the Somali Animal Health Service Project, who went to Eil Baraf to investigate, told IRIN that "the birds all had tags with Orint. Institute, Zagreb Croatia on them, which tells us that they were migratory birds from that country."

        He said by the time his team got to the village the birds were decomposing, "and would not lend themselves to proper examination so we burned them to avoid the possibility of spreading anything".

        Ali said that so far there were no indications to suggest they may have infected the local birds with anything.

        "We have asked the villagers to report any changes in their domestic birds and so far nothing. We are also appealing to other nearby villages to do likewise," he added.

        The region, like the rest of Somalia, is suffering from flooding that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people after torrential rain swelled rivers, submerging hundreds of villages in a country without much infrastructure after 16 years of civil strife.

        Malimow said that many residents are worried that the birds may have brought "any new and unknown disease into the country. People are already suffering."


        “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
        Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

        ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ ~~~


        • #5
          Re: SOMALIA - Dead birds raise avian flu fears

          Comment ProMED:

          Archive Number 20061123.3336
          Published Date 23-NOV-2006
          Subject PRO/AH> Undiagnosed die-off, wild birds - Somalia

          [The location of the flooding can be seen at>.
          It seems that Jowhar is also referred to as Giohar and is located about 100 km north of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu; both names (Jowhar and Giohar) are printed on the map. At this point, the river Webi Shabeelle is on its way from the Ethiopian Highlands to join the Indian Ocean.

          This is a disturbing report on many levels. First of all, we have no idea
          what caused the deaths of these birds and really where the birds came from.
          It could be avian influenza, of course, but we have no evidence of this, not
          even clinical sign or necropsy reports. I don't need to remind everyone that
          there are many causes of wild bird die-offs that are not avian influenza:
          botulism, avian cholera (caused by _Pasteurella multocida_), mycoplasmosis,
          salmonellosis, trichomoniasis, exotic Newcastle disease, West Nile virus,
          aflatoxicosis, aspergillosis, and other more mundane causes such as

          Quarterly reports from USGS National Wildlife center indicating high
          mortality events and their cause can be accessed at
          The most disturbing aspect of this report, however, is the low likelihood
          that we will actually ever definitively find out whether this is avian
          influenza unless it becomes such a strong epidemic among either birds or
          people that no one can ignore it any longer.

          Clearly, Dr Hamud and colleagues do not have the resources to test these
          wild birds for avian influenza or trace them back to their origins. In a
          country where political instability and wobbling statehood have combined
          with natural disasters to weaken civil society, it appears there is no one
          to fill the surveillance gap. Furthermore, there also exists a gap in
          regional African or international mechanisms to ensure appropriate
          surveillance so that we can either rule in or rule out avian influenza in
          this and many other cases in Africa. Given that avian influenza has been
          previously reported in the region, active follow-up should be routine here
          as elsewhere. We can't afford to watch some regions closely and ignore
          others. - Mod.PC]

          “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
          Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

          ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ ~~~


          • #6
            Re: SOMALIA - Dead birds raise avian flu fears

            That Promed report is a little negative. If the affected area is 100km North of Mogadishu it will be in a UIC area and fairly stable (assuming Zenawi resists trying to invade Somalia). A request to the UIC may well provide samples for analysis at NAMRU3.