Uganda national task force gets cautious as bird flu breaks out

Uganda national task force gets cautious as bird flu breaks out

Kampala, Jan 16: Uganda has reactivated the National Task Force (NTF) to coordinate the fight against avian flu that has broken out in the east African country, minister of agriculture said Sunday.

Vincent Ssempijja told reporters that the NTF is composed of human and animal experts from government, and non-governmental organisations, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The NTF has experience and has competence to handle such outbreaks, and therefore the situation is under control,” Ssempijja said.

He urged the public to report any cases of mass deaths of birds, animal, both domestic and wild to any nearest government authority.

He said bird owners must keep them indoors to avoid them interacting with wild birds and animals and added that people must not touch or eat wild birds or other wild animals that are found dead, but report these instead.

Uganda on Saturday said the avian flu had broken out in the central parts of the country.

Ssempijja said confirmatory tests from a mass death of birds at Lutembe beach on the shores of Lake Victoria turned out positive for avian flu. Other tests on dead birds in Masaka also turned out positive.

Uganda is among the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that face a high risk of a bird flu outbreak because it is crisscrossed by several routes for migratory birds, which are carriers of the virus.

The infection can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms in birds, ranging from mild illness, which may pass unnoticed, to a rapidly fatal disease that can cause severe epidemics.

According to the World Health Organization, avian influenza viruses do not normally infect humans but there have been instances of certain highly pathogenic strains causing severe respiratory disease in humans.