Vol.21 No.18

Wednesday 4 February 2004    

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Botswana safe from bird flu - official

SHIRLEY NKEPE
Staff Writer

2/3/2004 11:38:54 PM (GMT +2)

BOTSWANA is not threatened by the bird flu, which is currently ravaging Asian countries, Deputy Director (Disease Control) in the Department of Animal Health and Production, Philemon Motsu has confirmed.


In a telephone interview yesterday, Motsu indicated that the country is safe because it is far from the affected countries. "Also, we do not import any animal products from Asia," he said.

He however indicated that his department is watching keenly to see how the flu develops and spreads out. "We are closely monitoring the situation," he said.

Meanwhile, yesterday's reports indicated that already 12 people (9 Vietnamese and 3 Thailand nationals) had died from the bird flu. And though human- to- human transmission cases had never been reported before, health experts would rather not rule out such a possibility, according to media reports. Should the virus mix with the regular human influenza strain, it might create a mutant which can pass between humans-triggering a human flu pandemic, experts have warned.

Tens of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia have reportedly been culled in response to the virus. However, Indonesia would not carry out mass killings of its poultry because of lack of funds to compensate farmers.

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