- Dozens of unidentified birds have been found dead in a village in the Middle Shabelle region, south-central Somalia, raising fears of an outbreak of bird flu in the country, according to local sources in the regional capital Jowhar, 90 km north of the national capital, Mogadishu.
"Fifty-two birds arrived in the village of Eil Baraf [50 km dead north of Jowhar] 10 days ago," said Muhammad Ibrahim Malimow, a local resident. "They looked like ducks, so no one paid them any attention until they started dying."
He said this raised fears among the locals who "raised the alarm".
According to specialists, migratory birds play an important role in the spread of the deadly H5N1 flu virus.
Muhammad Ali, a veterinarian of the Somali Animal Health Service Project, who went to Eil Baraf to investigate, told IRIN that "the birds all had tags with Orint. Institute, Zagreb Croatia on them, which tells us that they were migratory birds from that country."
He said by the time his team got to the village the birds were decomposing, "and would not lend themselves to proper examination so we burned them to avoid the possibility of spreading anything".
Ali said that so far there were no indications to suggest they may have infected the local birds with anything.
"We have asked the villagers to report any changes in their domestic birds and so far nothing. We are also appealing to other nearby villages to do likewise," he added.
The region, like the rest of Somalia, is suffering from flooding that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people after torrential rain swelled rivers, submerging hundreds of villages in a country without much infrastructure after 16 years of civil strife.
Malimow said that many residents are worried that the birds may have brought "any new and unknown disease into the country. People are already suffering."
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