Saturday, December 17, 2005

Malawi sends samples to SA to test for bird flu

There have been reports of avian flu (probable cases) all over Africa already. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania. The reporting speed will be far far slower than in Asia, where infrastructure, exposure and experience is a lot deeper.
China remains a concern, along with the entire region that is going through winter. I feel the region would be lucky to emerge through winter without a larger number of people being exposed. The most vulnerable period is that period right at the end of winter, and early spring.
It may seem funny, without the above context, me taking pictures of dead birds. I'm fairly certain none of the birds I've found (six) have died from bird flu. It's an ominous sign when you find whole flocks lying on a field, the wind tearing out their feathers. That hasn't happened yet.
We have a white pigeon in our garden. If that fella is lying on his back, I'll begin to worry about staying alive in my immediate environment.

Blantyre, Malawi
16 December 2005 01:59

Malawi dispatched blood and tissue samples to neighbouring South Africa on Friday to be tested for avian influenza after thousands of migratory birds were found dead on a hill in the central Ntchisi district.

Agriculture officials expressed alarm after local villagers started scooping up the dead fork-tailed drongos -- known locally as namzenze -- to eat earlier this week in the district about 200km east of the capital, Lilongwe.

"Someone alerted police that people are feasting on mysterious manna from heaven," said Wilfred Lipita, director of livestock and animal health in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

"We sent officials to caution the people not to eat them since they may have the avian flu which has proved deadly to humans in other countries."

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has ravaged poultry stocks across Asia since 2003, killing or forcing the slaughter of more than 160 000 million birds. It has also killed at least 71 people.

Health officials fear the virus could spark a pandemic if it mutates into a form easily passed from human to human. - Sapa-AP

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