15 000 birds dead in six months

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Obrein Simasiku

Omuthiya – A total of 15 687 birds, including chickens, doves and other wild birds in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) have died since the beginning of the outbreak of Newcastle disease last August.

About 316 026 birds have so far been vaccinated in the four northern regions.

This is according to deputy chief state veterinarian Dr John Shoopala, who said from their observations in the four regions of Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto, the majority of the dead birds were domestic chickens. The disease is contained in the four regions, where a few isolated cases are still being observed.

“It is also reported that individual poultry farmers in other regions are also vaccinating their birds against Newcastle disease,” said Shoopala, embracing this is as a good initiative.

He said the ban on the movement and trading of live birds (chickens, ducks, ostriches, guinea fowls, caged birds, pigeons, doves and others), uncooked eggs, feathers and chicken feed from the infected regions remains in force.

“The importation of poultry from the neighbouring country (Angola) has been banned and monitoring along the borders is being done on a regular basis and a few individuals who were found trying to bring in chickens from Angola were intercepted and subsequently prevented from crossing into Namibia. Generally the public is adhering very well to this control measure,” he said.

Meanwhile, from this reporter’s observations in Omuthiya there are no signs of live or cooked chicken being sold in public, not even at the popular open market.

New Era however stumbled upon a local businesswoman, known locally as Rauna, who says she has a poultry farm and that she is not affected by the outbreak, as she imports her chickens from South Africa and they are normally vaccinated.

“The one you see in the cage is a healthy chicken. All the chickens are vaccinated every six weeks and if they are set for slaughter they take up to 21 days before they are brought here for sale,” explained Rauna.

Newcastle disease is caused by a virus (paramyxovirus, of the Group 1 serotype).

Symptoms of the disease amongst poultry are greenish, watery diarrhoea, lack of movement brought on by the diarrhoea, respiratory difficulty – which might include sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge and coughing, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis, as well as partial or complete drop in egg production.

The virus is highly contagious and spreads in droppings or nasal discharge via direct contact, through the air, or via contaminated items, such as the soles of shoes, food, or infected dishes and cages.

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