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Bird flu cases reported in southern Sudan

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Sept 13, 2006 (JUBA) — The authorities in southern Sudan have found the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in chickens in southern Sudan, a local official said on Wednesday.

Louis Morris Kyanga, who handles community relations for the southern Sudanese government’s animal resources and fisheries department, said samples taken from the birds in August had proven positive for the virus.

"Samples were ... sent to Khartoum, then to the United Kingdom for further tests. On August 30, we received the tests. All the samples proved to be positive (for H5N1)," he told reporters in the southern capital Juba.

Sudan reported outbreaks of bird flu in Khartoum and Jazeera provinces in the north in April.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation says on its Web site that the last outbreak in Sudan was in that same month. Sudanese government officials said they had eradicated the virus.

Kyanga said his department received more complaints on Sept. 9 of death and sickness among domestic birds including duck but the test results for those cases were not yet ready.

"A surveillance team has been sent and there are checkpoints in three places in town to prevent the movement of birds from one place to another," he added.

The Ugandan newspaper New Vision said Ugandan medical personnel in places close to southern Sudan were on high alert to detect any possible outbreaks in the country. Juba lies about 110 km (70 miles) north of the Ugandan border.

The disease, highly infectious among flocks of domestic flocks, devastated the poultry industry in Egypt, Sudan’s neighbour to the north. The number of cases diminished in the summer but new cases came to light in the last few weeks.

It has killed 143 people worldwide and caused the death and destruction of millions of birds in Asia.

(Reuters)

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