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Economy

Bird flu under control, says Uganda Agriculture minister

Uganda’s Agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja says bird flu cases reported in the country are under control.

Mr Ssempijja, in an interview broadcast on NBS Television, told Ugandans that all commercial poultry farms had been placed under strict surveillance with their activities being monitored to safeguard the businesses.

“Fortunately, these farms are located far away from the 10km quarantine radius range around Lake Victoria. The commercial farms can produce safe poultry products for local and export markets,” the minister said.

Kenya and Rwanda had mid last week imposed a ban on poultry imports — live chicken, chicks, eggs and meat — from Uganda, citing an outbreak of bird flu to reduce the possibility of the disease spreading to their territories.

Kenya’s Agriculture secretary Willy Bett said all border entry points had been put on high alert to block any poultry imports, adding that import licences issued earlier had been suspended awaiting further advice.

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Cause of death

Mr Ssempijja said that carcasses of seven migratory birds (white winged Black terns), five domestic ducks and one chicken had been confirmed as having died from the dreaded disease while other wild bird carcasses had been collected for testing to establish the cause of death.

He added that Uganda Wildlife Authority estimated that 950 terns could have died in Masaka, Wakiso and Kalangala districts; all located along the shores of Lake Victoria, in the past two weeks.

“No other domestic animal or human being has been reported to have been affected by bird flu. The disease is specifically evident along known shores of Lake Victoria popular with migratory birds.

“They land and rest before flying to North Africa when the weather changes. No case has been reported anywhere else in Uganda within commercial poultry units,” he said.

To avert further spread of the disease, he said, an inter-governmental taskforce had been established to monitor the situation.

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