|HPAI 2005-2017 - Credit OIE|
As the map above depicts, in the 12 years since HPAI H5N1 broke out of Southeast Asia and began spreading internationally, reported outbreaks in Africa have been pretty much restricted to Egypt (which is under represented on this map), a small number of West African nations (Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, etc.), and a sprinkling of less worrisome H5N2 outbreaks in South Africa.
I say `reported' because, for many of these low resource nations, surveillance, testing and reporting of avian influenza outbreaks is either a low priority, or simply not practical (see The Challenge Of Avian Flu Surveillance In Sub-Saharan Africa).
Now that HPAI H5 has sparked a major wildlife die off on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, countries that have felt relatively isolated from the AI problem are now scrambling to deal with what coulse pose a serious threat to their poultry industries, local economies, food security, and potentially to public health.
Neighboring countries are taking protective steps (see Deutsche Welle report Kenya, Rwanda ban Uganda poultry after bird flu outbreak), and yesterday the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture published a long statement on the outbreak, and their response.
While in part a reassuring political speech, this statement is refreshingly more detailed than what we usually get from local officials in Central Africa.
Speech for the Honorable Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries during communication of outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in wild and domestic bird in Uganda 15th January 2017.
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured to have this opportunity to inform you of an eminent catastrophe faces the people of our country.
My Ministry was on the 2nd January 2017 informed by Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) of a report of mass death of wild birds seen by fishermen at Lutembe beach at the shores of Lake Victoria near Entebbe. Another report was also received on 13th January 2017 from Masaka district.
UWEC communicated to Uganda Government Chemist and the Commissioner of Animal Health (CAH) of my Ministry.
My Ministry immediately sent a team to investigate the mass bird death together with a team from government chemist and UWEC.
The specimen unfortunately have turned positive to the very serious disease The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), that affects both humans and animals and which causes high number of deaths in both species.
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 my 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;
• Plan to control HPAI in domestic animals and humans.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
This country is faced by looming catastrophe of an outbreak of HPAI currently in wild birds and has already affected some domestic birds in Masaka district;
I am calling up on all of us to actively participate by being alert of the situation and sharing this information. I also ask you to follow instructions as provided by professionals to save our people, poultry, animals and wild life.
TOGETHER WE WIN
I SAY ALL THIS FOR GOD AND MY COUTRY