Sudan reports bird flu outbreak
(Sep. 14, 2006) Juba - Authorities in autonomous southern Sudan said on Wednesday that they had confirmed an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in poultry, with two other suspected cases of the virus potentially fatal to humans.
They said the outbreak, confirmed by laboratories in the federal capital, Khartoum, and Britain, had not infected any people, but had prompted an alert in neighbouring Uganda amid fears it could spread to humans.
Louis Morris Kyanga of south Sudan's ministry of animal resources and fisheries said the tests confirmed that several chickens from a residential backyard in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba had died from H5N1 on August 03.
Further tests 'are conducted'
He said: "We received the results of the tests, and unfortunately all the samples have proven to be positive", adding that further tests were being conducted on the carcasses of 18 ducks found in two backyards on September 09.
Kyanaga said: "Samples from those have been sent again to Khartoum and the United Kingdom, as we don't have the laboratory facilities here, but they are suspected to be avian flu just by the signs."
H5N1, which had killed nearly 140 people, mostly in Asia, since 2003, was reported in northern and central Sudan in April, but had not spread to the south.
Sudan shared a lengthy border with Egypt, which had suffered more from bird flu than any other country outside Asia since the virus began spreading worldwide earlier this year.
Scientists 'fear global flu pandemic'
The only human case thus far reported in sub-Saharan Africa had been in the Red Sea state of Djibouti.
While the virus didn't spread easily among people, the chance of a mutation that would allow it to do so was heightened as more humans catch it from infected birds.
Scientists feared that if this occurred, a global flu pandemic with a massive death toll could result.
Africa was considered particularly at risk due to the close proximity between poultry and humans on small family farms such as the affected homesteads in Juba.
Kyanga said southern Sudan authorities were taking steps to contain the flu, but had not yet resorted to culling.
He said: "A surveillance team has been sent to the affected areas and there is a ban on the movement of birds." (from news24.com)