About 27 poultry farms in Omusati Region face closure due to the outbreak of Newcastle disease that for the past three months has wreaked havoc in rural villages.
Doctors have warned people not to consume or buy chickens from Omusati Region until further notice.
According to the chief veterinarian for Omusati Region, Dr Josephat Peter, the contagious disease that affects domestic and wild avian species entered Namibia from neighbouring Angola, from where people cross the border on a daily basis to sell live chickens in Namibia.
The situation now threatens the availability of a viable key protein source in the region that is already grappling with the effects of a severe drought.
Peter explained that in layman’s terms Newcastle disease is a viral disease affecting poultry. Infected chickens show symptoms of physical exhaustion, gasping for air, closed eyes, twisting of the neck, the crop and wattle turn purple, a greenish watery diarrhoea, muscular tremors and a rapid drop in egg production.
Peter said that symptoms of the disease started showing in July when some people went to buy chickens from ungazetted entry points at Katangu, Osimengula, Ombaye and Iikokola in southern Angola.
Peter said that most chickens that tested positive for Newcastle disease were from Outapi, Omatelekelo, Onakayale, Okapanda, Okayiye, Onamulunga, Ouholondema, Omundjalala, Etunda and Ongwali.
“All these chickens are disposed of. So far ten cases were reported to this office and samples taken from such chickens were confirmed by the central veterinary laboratory in Windhoek as positive,” said Peter.
Chickens from other areas such as Othika, Oukwa, Oshondo and Omayunda, where possible outbreaks were reported, were not tested as they were all dead by the time the cases were reported to the veterinary office.
The vet advised that people slaughter and dispose of all sick chickens and those that came into contact with infected chickens.
“Clean the premises thoroughly of chicken manure and destroy by burning. Clean all the water drinking containers, troughs, equipment and feeders,” he said.
He further advised that people disinfect premises by using F10 Sc.
Peter warned that people must not transport chickens to or from Omusati during the next 90 days.
He further advised chicken owners to keep their birds in the coops to prevent them from getting into contact with other poultry.
“Strictly enforce bio-security in your chicken house by not introducing chickens from anywhere. Avoid visitors to your chicken premises. Disinfect yourself when you go in and out of your chicken premises.”
He further advised that people have all their chickens vaccinated, adding that vaccines are available at their office.
He said that in Omusati alone about 20 villages are left with empty chicken coops as a result of the current outbreak of Newcastle disease.