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Authorities on avian flu alert as migratory birds arrive

posted on 15/01/2007: 1415 views

With the start of the migratory bird season, the authorities have become vigilant to monitor the situation to prevent bird flu related cases from entering the country.

A fresh wave of bird flu related cases in Asia has once again forced the authorities concerned to be on their toes. In the latest case, the avian virus infected a farmer in China and killed an Indonesian teenager.

According to the World Health Organisation statistics, H5N1 strain of bird flu virus has infected 263 people in 10 countries since 2003 killing 157.

"We did not relax at all despite the fact that there has been no reported bird flu case in the UAE," said Dr Hesham Ahmad Fahmi, Head of the Veterinary Section at the Dubai Municipality. He said the special committee of the municipality, which works in coordination with the UAE's National Emergency Committee on Bird Flu, monitors the situation regularly.

The municipality inspectors regularly check poultry and bird shops in the emirate, take blood samples to conduct avian virus (H5N1) tests.

"The veterinary section has conducted laboratory tests on a number of birds found sick or dead but all were tested negative," said Dr Fahmi. He said inspectors and private bird watchers monitor migratory birds at the wildlife sanctuary and public parks in addition to daily inspections of poultry farms and shops.

Migratory birds have been main cause of concern for officials. "But this year, we have received much lesser number of birds probably due to mild winter in the CIS and European countries," Dr Fahmi said.

He advised residents to keep their pet birds and chickens well protected and do not let them mix with wild birds.

He said people should avoid feeding town pigeons to avert any contamination. "Residents should not be worried even if they find any dead bird. They should call our emergency number and our inspectors will reach the spot to dispose off the bird properly after conducting necessary tests," he said.

More than twenty-five thousand birds can be seen only in Ras Al Khor Sanctuary in Dubai in January. Some other sanctuaries in the UAE where people and migratory birds live in close contact include: Al Warsen Lakes in Dubai, the Khor Al Beidah Lagoon in Umm Al Qaiwain, the oasis city Al Ain and islands along the coasts of the Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. (Gulf News)


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