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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
African countries act on bird flu
Kenyan traders prepare chickens for sale in a market 21 October 2005 in Nairobi
Local markets are expected to benefit from the poultry bans
At least seven African countries have banned imports of poultry from parts of Asia affected by bird flu.

Senegal, Ghana, Congo, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are worried because birds migrate there from East Asia and Europe, where cases have been reported.

Some local chicken farmers are expected to welcome the ban because they have long complained about the competition from cheap poultry imports.

More than 60 people in Asia have died from a new strain of flu since 2003.

Experts fear up to 150m people could die if the deadly H5N1 avian flu strain mutates so it can be passed between humans.

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Those who have died so far are believed to have caught the virus after coming into close contact with birds such as chickens.

Officials are particularly worried about an outbreak of bird flu in Africa, where health systems are already overstretched.

'Serious'

Ghana has banned poultry imports from 13 countries, including China, South Korea and Iran, which last year exported some 80 tonnes of poultry to Ghana.

As well as the import ban, the Senegalese government has ordered a series of measures to combat the spread of bird flu:

  • Vets should immediately inspect all poultry stocks
  • Any bird found dead must immediately be wrapped in plastic and taken to the closest veterinary service for inspection
  • An emergency plan will be drawn up in case migrating birds are infected in the national parks where they gather.

Kenya's director of medical service James Nyikal launched a public awareness campaign on Friday, saying: "We have strengthened disease surveillance to watch out for the flu virus if it was to appear."

"Things are serious and we are totally stopping imports of poultry and poultry products until the situation normalises," said Uganda's director of animal resources and disease prevention William Olaho.

In August, South Africa slaughtered some 6,000 ostriches to contain an outbreak of bird flu.


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