FAO triggers AI alert for Africa
FAO told African nations to be on high alert for bird flu after several outbreaks of the virus have been reported in wild birds across Europe. The FAO alert says that the disease has spread rapidly in the wild bird population of Western Europe. 70 cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Commercial farms have also been affected by outbreaks of bird flu. As wild birds act as reservoirs for the virus and will soon begin to migrate across Africa, the risk of transmission is growing.
"FAO recommends that countries in Africa be on the alert for the incursion of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5 (HPAI), after increasing reports from European countries of wild bird detection last week. Countries and farms should have implemented improved measures for prevention, detection and early diagnosis and response to outbreaks. In addition, it is likely that the virus has already reached parts of West and North Africa, but has not been detected until now," the agency said in a statement.
FAO is recommending that African nations increase disease surveillance efforts in wild birds and poultry and limit contact between poultry and wild flocks. The organization says to pay extra attention to shared sources of drinking water to avoid contamination. Previous outbreaks of bird flu in 2017 threatened the livelihood and food security of millions of people in Africa.