By Watchdog reporter

According to the ministry of Agriculture, on 2 January, 2017 and on 13 January, 2017, it received reports from Uganda Wildlife Education Centre ( UWEC) indicating mass death of wild birds seen by fishermen at Lutembe beach at the shores of Lake Victoria near Entebbe and Masaka district respectively.

The ministry immediately sent a team to investigate the mass bird death together with a team from government chemist and UWEC, unfortunately, the results turned out positive. The officials detected a very serious disease known as Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), that affects both humans and animals.

Things that the public needs to immediately know are:

• The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is commonly referred to as AVIAN FLU or AVIAN INFLUENZA;

• This is the first time AVIAN FLU or AVIAN INFLUENZA breaks out in Uganda;

• HPAI affects humans, birds and animals;

• However, the species that are so far affected are white winged black tern birds and domestic ducks and chicken;
• 7 specimen of the white winged black tern birds have been collected from Lutembe beach and all the 7 are positive for the deadly disease;

• 2 specimen of feaces picked from the ground just dropped by birds flying away from Lutembe beach were also positive for HPAI;

• 5 domestic duck and 1 hen specimen were brought in from Masaka district were too are positive to HPAI;

• Diagnosis was undertaken by the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Centre (NADDEC) MAAIF;
• Diagnosis was confirmed by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) MOH;

• There is a National Task Force (NTF) which is multi disciplinary with human and animal experts from government, agencies and NGO that is usually called upon to handle outbreaks of diseases that affect both humans and animals. The NTF is anchored at OPM and is co-chaired by MAAIF and MOH;

• The NTF has experience and has competence to handle such outbreaks, and therefore the situation is under control;
Advice to the people:

• Report any cases of mass birds, animal, both domestic and wild to any government authority nearest to you, but especially the veterinary authorities;

• Report any cases of sickness or death of humans to the nearest human health facility (Hospital, clinic) or to the MOH;

• Bird owners MUST house them, avoiding interaction between domestic and wild birds and animals;

• People MUST not touch or eat wild birds or other wild animals that are found dead, they should instead report to the nearest veterinary authority.

What the ministry is going to do:

• Together with MOH, UWEC, UWA, Districts and all other stakeholders will;

o Immediately inform the public to avert any human catastrophe from human infections;

o Calm the population through providing accurate information and facts about HPAI;

o Intensify meetings and actions of the National Task Force on disease;

• Continues with further investigations and prevention of spread of HPAI to domestic animals and possibly to humans;

• Continue providing information to the public;