Zambia ups surveillance to prevent bird flu

Zambia has intensified surveillance of its water bodies with wild migratory birds to keep bird flu at bay. Government also reiterated the need for farmers and the public to immediately notify veterinary officers about bird mortalities and disease.

Director of Veterinary Services Yona Sakala said the surveillance is concentrated in the Lukanga Swamps, Lochinvar and Lake Bangweulu, which have the largest population of wild, migratory birds.

“We stepped up surveillance at various water bodies within the route for migratory wild birds,” Sakala said.

Wild birds are a source of transmission of the highly contagious disease which also attacks animals. It can completely wipe out the bird population of a country. The disease is also easily transmitted from one poultry farm to the next by contaminated equipment, vehicles, clothing and feed. No evidence of human to human transmission has been recorded. Prevention is done through surveillance, outbreak preparedness and pandemic planning.

Zambia has since banned the import of live birds and other poultry products from South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after the outbreak of the disease in those countries. No symptoms of the disease have been detected since then, but concerns remain.

Sakala attributed the zero-record of the disease to vigilance among farmers and members of the public who heeded government’s sensitisation messages.

“It does not mean that all is fine now. We must still be vigilant and report all cases of poultry mortalities and illnesses immediately,” he said.

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