Possible Avian Flu at the coast

Piquet Jacobs 

Local birdwatchers and environmentalists are concerned of the possibility of Avian (Bird) Influenza (Flu) Type A virus, among Pelagic birds along the Namibian coastline, as several reports of sick and dying birds, mainly that of the Cape Cormorant and Tern, started pouring in over the last two weeks.

The virus occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide. Although avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans, they can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
The Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry has since then started to test for the virus and is awaiting the test results. In the meantime, the public is urged to be cautious and refrain from handling any sick looking bird. When walking your dogs on the beach make sure to keep them away from any birds. Typical symptoms of this virus infection in seabirds include tame or dazed behaviour, weakness, an inability to sit or stand up, twitching, seizures and less typical, mucus on the beak or around the eyes. Meanwhile, we would like to ask the public to avoid any contact with infected birds as well as their secretions, not to touch birds, or those that are suspected to be infected, with bare hands, and to report to the health facility if you have flu-like symptoms within 10 days of handling birds.
Emmy-Else Ndevaetela, Ministry of Health and Social Services Control Health Program Officer says, “We kindly advise that the regional teamwork with veterinary counterparts in the investigations and prevention, including safety disposal of the birds as they pose health risk to humans if it turns out to be zoonotic and to other poultries including domestic ones. These needs to be incinerated. Since these are migratory birds, all teams alongside the coastal areas including ||Kharas (Lüderitz) should be on alert for this.”
The public is urged to report any visibly sick, dying or dead seabirds along the Walvis Bay and Swakopmund coastline to the Walvis Bay State Vet at 064 203073.

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