Kenya is free and safe from bird flu, an outbreak of which has been reported in neighbouring Uganda, assures Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (Minister) William Bett.

he told journalists here Thursday that the government had deployed a rapid response unit to areas along the border with Uganda to enhance surveillance to prevent a possible importation of the disease into the country.

Bett said the importation of poultry and poultry products from Uganda had been banned and all permits issued for such imports had been cancelled.

The counties under surveillance are Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Turkana, West Pokot, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori.

The first case of bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is said to have been reported in wild ducks and birds at Lutembe Beach along the shores of Lake Victoria near Entebbe in Uganda’s Masaka and Wakiso districts last week which had turned positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Meanwhile, Kenyan veterinary para-professionals have agreed to work with the government to contain the avian flu from spreading from Uganda to other East African countries.

Under the arrangements, more than 15,000 African private veterinarians will work with the Kenyan government personnel in dealing with bird flu that affects both human and livestock.

The chairman of the Africa Veterinary Technical Association (AVTA) Benson Ameda described the outbreak as worrying as Uganda does not have enough personnel to deal with it.

Addressing the media in Naivasha, about 75 kilometres northwest of here, Ameda called on the government to immediately ban the slaughtering of chicken at homes as a way of dealing with the outbreak.

We have started mobilizing 8,000 private vets in Kenya, 4,000 from Uganda, 3,000 from Tanzania and 300 from Rwanda as one country alone will not be able to contain the flu, he said.

We welcome the move to ban poultry trade at the border and we are fully behind the government in its efforts to deal with the outbreak.”

The Kenya Veterinary Para-professionals Association (KVPA) national chairman, John Ngige, called on farmers to be wary of people posing as professionals who may take advantage of the current crisis to cheat them.