Tanzania in high alert over possible bird flu outbreak


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – The Tanzanian government is on full alert over the possible outbreak of avian flu. It has declared the disease a national disaster and is taking precautionary measures to curb its spread into the country.

Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda launched the Avian Influenza Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, which aims to monitor the possible outbreak of the disease that has already reported to have hit northern African states.

Prime Minister Pinda said since the disease is a threat and can infect human beings, Tanzania has decided to take measures to prevent it from affecting humans in case there is an outbreak in the East African state. “The three-year plan that would be reviewed every year, would among other things control the importation of poultry in the country and create public awareness about the disease,” he said.

The newly-appointed prime minister has confirmed that precautionary measures would help the country avert an outbreak. The disease has already been reported to have struck the southern parts of Sudan and has a strong possibility of crossing to the East African states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania through migratory birds.

Tanzanian Livestock Minister John Magufuli said some 3,000 samples have been tested in a laboratory located in the Tanzanian capital city of Dar es Salaam, but none has shown any sign of avian flu.

Avian Flu experts fear that the deadly bird flu virus could wing its way to the African continent, possibly devastating rich avian resources inside the East African Rift Valley.

Experts had earlier cautioned East African countries sharing the Rift Valley features to be in a great danger of bird flu and observe devastation of their rich avian resources. They said there is a great possibility to find the annual migrating birds from Northern and Western Europe to Africa across the Mediterranean Sea spreading the deadly bird flu virus.

Rich with birds, the Great Rift Valley has vast geological and geographical features that run from Jordan in the far north to Mozambique in the south covers thousands of kilometers of land rich with bird species.

Birds in great danger to be affected by the deadly bird flu virus are those breeding inside the Rift Valley salt lakes available in key tourist attractive wildlife parks which are leading tourist attractions in East Africa.

Though no big danger to humans, the spread of the deadly virus in East Africa could greatly affect the avian resources in the region and cause great losses to millions of birds which attract a big number of tourists visiting the region.

Tanzania and Kenya receive most birds migrating through the Rift Valley, which occupies a big part of the East African highlands. Seasonal migratory of flamingoes between East African Rift Valley lakes of Naivasha and Nakuru in Kenya and Natron, Ngorongoro and Manyara in Tanzania poses great risks of quick spread of the bird flu virus if it hits one part of the Rift Valley, experts have said.