Namibian government on alert amid bird flu outbreak

Culling of chickens due to bird flu. Photo: pragativadi.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (ADV) – The Namibian government has announced that it was alert amid an outbreak of avian influenza, also known as avian flu.

Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry acting chief veterinary officer, Albertina Shilongo, told The Namibian that the disease has been detected in penguins at Halifax Island near Lüderitz in the Kharas region recently.

“When you vaccinate these chickens, you will not get rid of the virus. But if you do not vaccinate them, you will be able to contain the outbreak,” said Shilongo.

She noted that this was the first time that the country experiences this outbreak. Currently, over 200 penguins of the 7000 population have died from the disease.

The disease was discovered after a team from the marine life awareness group arrived the Halifax Island, and counted 184 dead penguins last month.

Avian influenza refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans.

Avian Flu symptoms include sudden death without any signs; lack of coordination; purple discolouration of the wattles, combs, and legs; soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; lack of energy and appetite; diarrhoea; swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles and hocks; and nasal discharge.

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