By: Kimani Chege and Zablon Odhiambo


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James Nyikal, director of medical services at the Kenyan health ministry says the country is working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to explore measures to deal with an outbreak of bird flu.

He adds that the ministry is "monitoring closely developments around the world and constantly reviewing the country's avian flu epidemic preparedness and response strategy."

Although a bird flu vaccine does not yet exist, vaccines for other forms of flu are available in Kenya, says Nyikal

Kenya has also temporarily suspended imports of pet birds and poultry products from countries with bird flu.

"We are setting up checkpoints at all ports to ensure that contaminated material does not enter the country," says the country's chief veterinary officer Joseph Musaa. "The greatest challenge, however, is that Kenya falls on the migratory route of most birds in the Rift Valley. We are monitoring this closely."

Peter Eriki, the WHO's Kenya director, says the Kenya Medical Research Institute laboratories are among the best in sub-Saharan Africa, and are able to detect bird flu virus in samples from migratory birds.

 Eriki says the WHO will work closely with the institute to enhance bird surveillance.

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