Recent statistics has shown that one hundred and thirty-six (136) deaths have been reported in Africa, due to Avian Influenza (Bird Flu); and Sierra Leone is being threatened by the outbreak as neighboring Ivory Coast has already being affected.
The Health Education Division of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) in collaboration with the Avian Secretariat, over the weekend organized a sensitization seminar about the airborne disease.
Speaking at the seminar, Health Education Officer Lansana Conteh explained that the disease transmission is seen to be moving from the Asian countries to Europe, noting that the possibility for it to reach Africa, and Sierra Leone in particular is increasing.
He disclosed that the development and dissemination of information kits about the disease is one of the key priorities of the Avian Secretariat, as part of its plans to forestall and control the disease if there is the emergence of an outbreak.
The National Coordinator, Dr Amadu Tejan Jalloh then gave an overview of the disease.
According to him, Bird flu is a viral disease normally affecting birds.
He intimated that the disease is highly contagious and when contacted, some domestic birds, including chicken, ducks and turkeys, become sick and die.
Dr Jalloh said that these types of bird flu viruses do not usually affect humans, but as of 1997 in Asia, the concept has changed. “the disease is now affecting humans,” he said.
He spoke about the mode of transmission, the signs and symptoms of the disease in both humans and animals and what government has done to prepare for any eventual outbreak.
Dr Mohamed Barrie of the Vet Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) said bird flu is dangerous than HIV/AIDS, since it is airborne.
He disclosed that one needs to take medication within two days when infected, as the risk of dying is greater if not addressed within these two days.
Dr Barrie encouraged stakeholders to embark on personal hygiene when ever they are dealing with birds to avoid infection; and also urged them to report any symptom of the disease to the Secretariat.