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  • Ethiopia prepares for bird flu


Ethiopia has set up a taskforce of health, education, agriculture and veterinary specialists to advise the government on how to face the threat posed by the bird flu virus, H5N1.

The government has banned imports of live poultry and poultry products from countries where the virus has been found and is inspecting imports from all other nations for signs of the disease.

It is also upgrading national laboratories to improve their capacity to deal with the threat, and is launching a bird flu public awareness campaign.

"Ethiopia is at high risk of a bird flu outbreak because millions of migratory birds from Europe and the Middle East will arrive in wetlands in north-eastern Ethiopia during December," says Asnake Fikre, a researcher at the Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Centre. "Rural communities living there depend heavily on poultry for their livelihoods."

Fikre says officials are setting up a system to monitor migratory birds for signs of the virus, but adds that public health authorities are ill prepared to respond to emergencies.

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