The Gambian authorities have confirmed the presence of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu on a wild bird reserve near the capital, Banjul. This comes less than a week after neighbouring Senegal reported an outbreak of the disease on a poultry farm.
Samples were collected from Gambia’s Tanji Bird Reserve, approximately 20 kilometres from Banjul, after reports of unusual deaths among wild birds. The samples were sent to a laboratory in Dakar, where they tested positive for High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) type H5N1.
A joint statement from Gambia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Health and Environment ministries warns that the disease not only poses a risk to domestic birds but also to humans, making it a major health concern nationwide. The statement advises the population against touching birds that appear sick or dead for fear of spreading the communicable disease.
The Gambia is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal, which reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on a poultry farm in the northwestern part of the West African country on March 18. That outbreak occurred on a farm in the village of Potou near the town of Louga, not far from the Langue de Barbarie National Park, where an outbreak of HPAI type H5N1 bird flu was found on March 10. Over 1,700 wild bird deaths have also been recorded in Senegal.
The global bird flu epidemic has been spreading around the world in the past year, killing more than 200 million birds, causing egg prices to soar, and raising concerns about human transmission. In response, Gambia’s Ministry of Agriculture has advised poultry farmers to heighten their biosecurity measures at their farms to minimise the risk of spreading the disease to their birds.
Gambia and Senegal are working together closely to help reduce the infection pressure at the wild bird level while working to prevent the spill over to their poultry, the joint statement said.