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Bird flu Alert in Kenya after Outbreak in Southern Sudan

With the recent outbreak of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in southern Sudan Kenyan authorities have issued an alert//.

Nicholas Muraguri, the ministry of health's head of promotive services said teams of health workers and veterinarians have been subsequently carrying out tests on people and poultry especially in Turkana and Lokichoggio districts bordering southern Sudan.

Muraguli said, "Apart from a surveillance, Kenya has banned poultry and poultry products imports from Sudan and other affected countries as a preventive measure against the bird flu."

According to officials here Kenya and other east African countries are at risk because birds that have already brought the deadly H5N1 strain from eastern Europe are flying to the region and beyond to escape the northern hemisphere winter.

In April Sudan reported outbreaks of bird flu in Khartoum and Jazeera provinces in the north. Although Sudanese government officials said that they had eradicated the virus health officials in southern Sudan said they continued to receive more complaints on Sept. 9 of death and sickness among domestic birds including duck. The test results for those cases were not yet ready.

Muraguli announced that Kenya had set up 11 centers in public hospitals where health workers are monitoring patients suffering from flu-like illnesses.

Muraguli said, "People should not touch, eat, sell or transport poultry or wild birds found dead. They should instead report such cases to the nearest veterinary or public health office."

He reported that so far all tests carried out in Kenya showed that there was no bird flu virus in Kenya and assured people that it was safe to continue eating poultry. He said tests on 560 dead birds were negative.

In rural Africa Chicken is a staple source of protein. Concerns have been expressed about the spread of avian flu center on watering spots that domestic poultry share with migrating waterf owl.

Last year Kenya banned poultry imports from affected nations in October saying that arrangements had been made with the World Health Organization for access to anti-viral drug Tamiflu in case of an avian flu outbreak.

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