WHO reports mass bird deaths in Eritrea


Mar 15, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday reported massive bird deaths in two regions in Eritrea, two weeks after it warned that the Horn of African nation was at risk of bird flu infection.

WHO representative here Andrew Kosia said that wild fowl had died in the coastal area of the Red Sea region and several chickens had died in the western region of Gash Barka.

“Birds have died in large numbers in the northern Red Sea region and in the Gash Barka region this month,” said Kosia.

“We have some suspicious samples, which we hope to send for testing soon, maybe to Nairobi,” he said, adding that UN experts would go to the affected regions this week.

Earlier this month, WHO warned that Eritrea was at a high risk of cross border transmission of the avian flu after the virus erupted in Egypt and tests revealing cases of bird flu-like infection in neighboring Ethiopia.

Eritrea, like many other African nations, has banned imports of poultry since last October.

Although the H5N1 strain does not spread easily between people, those who come in contact with sick birds can contract it and scientists say millions of people worldwide could die if it mutates into a disease communicable among humans.

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