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Sudan moves to contain suspected avian flu in Juba

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  • Sudan moves to contain suspected avian flu in Juba

    http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18795

    Tuesday 21 November 2006.

    Nov 20, 2006 (KAMPALA) Thousands of domestic poultry have been destroyed in and around the southern Sudanese capital of Juba in an attempt to contain an avian flu threat reported in the region several months ago, officials said.

    Samson Kwaje, the southern Sudan information minister, said a team had been visiting homes to check poultry and destroy suspected cases. The team would also determine how the affected farmers should be compensated.

    "A surveillance team has been visiting homes where there are reports of strange poultry deaths," Kwaje said on Friday. "When they go there they destroy the birds, then government compensates the affected farmers."
    However, he added, southern Sudan did not have big poultry farms. The team, including health officials, was concentrating on small subsistence farmers who own a few dozens of birds.

    "This might have been a blessing in disguise, because the loss has not been that great. We have been assessing the situation of individual farmers and destroying the birds there if the situation is suspicious, so the impact economically has not been that pronounced," Kwaje added.

    Authorities in southern Sudan announced in September that they had found the H5N1 strain in chicken and in the owner of an affected farm. The farmer was hospitalised with avian flu symptoms and later tested positive, prompting the World Health Organization to send a team into the impoverished country.

    Neighbouring Uganda responded by restricting movements of bird and poultry products along the border with Sudan. It also asked its district officials to be on alert for suspected cases of the disease.

    Health ministry spokesman Paul Kaggwa said a national task force was maintaining a high state of vigilance. At the same time, he added, Uganda had embarked on a community education programme, encouraging the general population to be vigilant as well.

    "The task force on avian flu meets frequently to assess the situation. We have embarked on a programme to reach out to the communities disseminating information about the disease and how we can control its spread if it were to strike," Kaggwa said, adding that the health ministry was using a film van to reach out to the community.

    The ministry, he added, had also trained medical personnel to handle the situation if the disease was detected in the east African country. The Uganda Wildlife Authority was also observing the movement of birds from the north and taking samples.

    Uganda and southern Sudan are situated on a major migratory route of birds moving to southern Africa from Europe and West Africa. There was also cause for concern as traffic between Uganda and southern Sudan has increased in the recent past as many businessmen travel on the route.

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    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation
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