• October 22nd, 2020

Bird flu in penguins brought under control

LÜDERITZ - The swab samples collected last week on penguins at Halifax Island in Lüderitz and tested by the Central Veterinary Laboratory tested positive of Avian Influenza H5N8 though the situation is under control, says the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

After the latest visit on 18 January this year, the death of penguins on Halifax Island continued even with the efforts from the ministry to control the spread of the virus.

Avian influenza refers to infection of birds with Avian Influenza Type A (bird flu) viruses. It occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird species. 

New Era visited the Halifax Island and was informed that interventions of preventing the virus to spread to other penguins is under control, as the Senior Fisheries Biologist under the Seabirds and Offshore Islands Section, Desmond Tom and his colleagues Gustaf Hanghome and Kauerii Ndjengua continue to take necessary measures to contain the infection as well as preventing further spreading by collecting and burning dead carcasses, isolating sick birds showing symptoms as well as disinfecting wet areas around the colonies where most dead birds have been found. The wet areas were disinfected by spreading salts on the mud pools at the colonies and covering it up with beach sand. 

The H5N8 virus Type A cannot survive brine (salty) conditions. The officials pay regular visits (once per week) to the site and repeat this procedures to avoid further spreading of the virus. They also carry biosecurity measures on board the research vessel RV Anichab to avoid transporting the virus to the mainland Lüderitz

The report indicated the death of penguins on Halifax Island was discovered late December 2018 and early January. More than 400 penguins mostly adults have been reported dead even though chicks and juveniles are also affected.
Halifax Island is situated roughly 10 km west of Lüderitz near Diaz Point, about 100m off the mainland.  It is the second most important breeding site for African penguins and is home to about 7 000 penguins that contribute to the entire population of about 26 000 penguins in Namibia.


Tuulikki Abraham
2019-02-19 09:54:36 | 1 years ago

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