By ANDREW BAGALA. Uganda on Sunday activated an emergency plan for epidemics control after detecting the first outbreak of a deadly bird flu that hit both wild and domestic birds in different locations.
Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the Agriculture minister, said specimens taken from white-winged tern birds that died on Lake Victoria shores, “unfortunately have turned positive to the very serious disease; the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)”.
This strain of the disease, one of three types, affects humans, animals and birds, according to the World Health Organisation WHO).
On January 2, fishermen reported “massive deaths of migratory birds at Lutembe beach,” near Entebbe about 30km South of the capital Kampala. Ten days later, on January 13, five domestic ducks and a hen in Masaka District, about 140km Southwest of Kampala w.
“There is a danger, although it isn’t a big risk, that if the disease crosses to human beings, it will give us a big headache,” Health ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine, said.
The PS said a multi-sectoral taskforce will lead the emergency response, including sensitising affected communities to avoid physical contact with or consuming sick or dead birds.
The team will visit the affected areas to assess the extent and impact of the outbreak and implement plans to contain spread.
The government is already mulling imposing quarantine on livestock and poultry in the affected areas to stem the risk of the disease spreading to other parts of the country.
The Health ministry has asked people to be vigilant and report any suspected cases immediately to health facilities or government authorities for prompt action.