7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Experts reject bird flu scare

INVESTIGATIONS are continuing into the deaths of 30 pigeons in Hamad Town.

But experts are "more or less certain" they did not die of avian (bird) flu, says Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry animal wealth director Dr Salman Abdul Nabi Ebrahim.

"Technically, we are not ruling out that possibility but pigeons are not normally infected by the deadly virus," he told the GDN.

Pigeons are not immune from the virus.

"But tests carried out all over the world have indicated that the birds have picked up the virus only after they were exposed to very high doses, especially in Australia and Canada," said Dr Ebrahim.

He said there was nothing to worry about in Bahrain and that test results would confirm this.

"Pigeons are certainly not a worry but we are not letting our guard down. Our surveillance is very high and we are not taking any chances," said Dr Ebrahim.

The 30 pigeons died over the week up to April 15, for no apparent reason, according to owner Bahraini Yusif Abdulla, who reared them.

"It is likely that they succumbed to a sudden change in temperature," said Dr Ebrahim.

"There is also a possibility that the birds fed on infected feed, which led them to die in a large number."

Dr Ebrahim said another high possibility was that the birds had succumbed to Newcastle Disease, a highly contagious bird disease affecting many domestic and wild avian species.

"This disease is known to affect domestic poultry all over the world and has earlier made an appearance in Bahrain," he said.

"Transmission occurs by exposure to faecal and other excretions from infected birds and through contact with contaminated feed, water, equipment and clothing.

But Dr Ebrahim said the Newcastle Diseas virus (NDV), was no threat to humans.

No treatment for NDV exists, but the use of prophylactic vaccines and sanitary measures reduces the likelihood of outbreaks.

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