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Namibia kills 200 penguins with bird flu to protect domestic birds

Staff Writer |
Namibia's Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday announced and confirmed the first outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8).

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The ministry said in a statement that the disease was detected in penguins on Halifax Island near Luderitz in the Karas region in the southern parts of the country on Feb. 2. More than 200 penguins have been reported dead so far from an estimated population of about 7,000.

"No other birds on the island seem to be affected by this disease at the moment. The penguins were burnt and buried on the island and so far no cases of domestic birds have been reported," it added.

According to the ministry, all birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with bird flu, though some species are more resistant to infection than others.

H5N8 is a subtype of the bird flu virus. Although it is considered one of the less pathogenic subtypes for humans, the ministry warned that other strains like H5N1 and H7N9 may be transmitted to people.

Farmers and the general public in Namibia are asked to immediately report any suspicion of avian influenza to the nearest state veterinary office, as vaccination and treatment of sick birds against the pathogen are prohibited in the country.

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