Kenya may lift the import ban imposed on Uganda chicken and eggs in the next one week, after experts from the two countries met to assess the measures taken against an epidemic of bird flu.
This will, however, depend on the final tests carried out by a group of experts drawn from the two countries. They will conclude the exercise in the next one week. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said the two teams are doing a risk assessment of the Avian flu outbreak in Uganda to determine if it has been contained.
Mr Bett did not confirm when the ban would be lifted, but officials told the Sunday Nation that it could be as early as this week. Kenya imposed the ban last month after a highly infectious strain of bird flu was reported in Uganda. But Uganda has assured Kenya that it has contained the outbreak, adding that most farms that export eggs to Kenya are located more than 10km from the quarantined area.
According to Mr Bett, the team will table its reports this week.
“Any further decision will be based on the team’s report. I’m happy that both parties acknowledged the danger posed by the disease and the need to work closely in arresting its spread,” said Mr Bett, who led a team from Kenya that met President Yoweri Museveni. Uganda’s Agriculture minister, Mr Vincent Ssempija, urged Kenya and other neighbouring countries not to worry about bird flu, adding that the situation was under control.
He said commercial poultry farms had been placed under strict surveillance. “These farms are located far from the 10km quarantine radius range around Lake Victoria. The commercial farms can produce safe poultry products for local and export markets,” said Mr Ssempija. On January 18, Kenya banned poultry imports from the neighbouring country following an outbreak of avian influenza.
At the time, Mr Bett said the government had taken adequate measures to secure Kenya from the viral infection. More than 32 million chicken in Kenya were said to be at risk of contracting the disease.
Kenya has been on high alert after the deadly viral disease was detected in dead birds worldwide. After the discovery, the Uganda Government activated its emergency plan for epidemics control after confirming one strain of the disease — one of three types that affect humans, animals and birds, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Avian flu is an infectious disease from birds and is caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. It can be transmitted to human beings, causing severe respiratory infections. The flu is characterised by a sudden onset of high fever, aching muscles, headache, severe sickness, non-productive cough and sore throat within two to five days, and up to 17 days, of infection.
In the very young, it can lead to pneumonia and death. It affects mainly the nose, throat, bronchi and occasionally the lungs. It is treatable with an antiviral drug called Tamiflu. Humans contract the disease through close contact with infected poultry or with objects contaminated by their faecal matter, according to WHO.