Query: Have there been measures put in place to ensure that domestic poultry are not affected by the avian flu outbreak? How long will the suspension be and how does Namibia plan to continue meeting the demand for poultry locally?
Response: All previously issued import and transit permits have been cancelled and recalled with immediate effect from infected countries. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is urging poultry farmers to practice sound bio-security measures at their establishments and avoid the domestic birds getting into contact with wild birds.
Surveillance activities are continuing and all poultry producers are urged to report cases of sickness and death to the State Veterinary Offices. The suspension will remain until such a time that there is no risk of transmission of Avian influenza from the infected countries to Namibia. We advise importers to import from non-infected countries.
Query: Can the avian flu be transmitted to humans and what are symptoms?
Response: Yes, it may be, but to date no such cases have been reported in humans in Namibia. The symptoms are usually flu-like symptoms. The disease is more of a production disease, where mortality in birds can reach up to 100 percent.
Query: What does the future hold for chicken imports to Namibia?
Response: We urge poultry importers to import from countries that are not infected by avian influenza. Since South Africa is a very important trading partner of Namibia, the ministry is monitoring the development with regard to the control of influenza in that country and the public will be notified of any new developments in this regard. It is also an opportunity for domestic poultry producers to increase their production to meet the local demand, in line with the Growth at Home policy and the Harambee Prosperity Plan objectives.
* Margaret Kalo, senior public relations officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, e-mail: Margaret.firstname.lastname@example.org