Ongwediva — State veterinarian in Omusati Region Josephat Peter has dismissed reports of a second outbreak of Newcastle disease in the region.
He said the symptoms being observed are in chickens affected by the previous outbreak whose immunity has been weakened and is being overpowered by the virus.
Peter said chickens vaccinated while infected only have an immunity of about 10 months before showing signs again.
Otamanzi and Oshikuku constituencies have reported through their councillors that chickens are dying of Newcastle disease-related symptoms since the beginning of this month.
There are reports from 38 villages in Otamanzi and 25 in Oshikuku of chickens dying in bigger numbers this time than during the same period last year.
"Chickens were vaccinated around the same time last year - it could be that those chickens' immunity has dropped because they were already sick when they were vaccinated and not because there is a new outbreak," said Peter.
Peter said his office has not confirmed any new Newcastle disease report for at least the past four months, but advised against vaccinating already sick chickens.
"Sick chickens should be put down and not be vaccinated," said Peter.
The veterinarian confirmed that cross-border chicken sales are still rife but said his office continues to monitor the situation and ensure that diseased chickens are put down.
Just recently about 90 chickens from Angola were confiscated and discarded after a tip-off of sales at the Onimbu open market at Outapi.
Meanwhile, Angolan business people at the Okatwitwi open market at Oshikango are smuggling in boxes of frozen chickens from Angola, which they sell at a relatively low price.
New Era ran the story earlier this month that the chief veterinary officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in the directorate of veterinary services, Adrianatus Maseke, had warned that the illegal import of chickens puts the country at risk of Newcastle disease, which last year decimated many chickens.
Oshikuku Constituency Councillor and Chairperson of the Omusati Regional Council, Modestus Amutse, confirmed he had received reports of the disease from Oshikuku and Otamanzi.
Amutse said given the communities' dependence on poultry for survival, the disaster risk management committee,
which he chairs, had resolved to purchase Newcastle vaccines for all 12 constituencies in the region.
"This could have a serious impact on the region's economy, hence as council we want to prevent further spread of the disease and prevent chickens that are not affected from being affected," said Amutse.
Amutse said documentation work to purchase vaccines were almost finalised and if all went according to plan, distribution of the vaccine to the various constituencies would kick off on Wednesday already.
Otamanzi Constituency Councillor John Iyambo said the rate at which the chickens are dying is quite worrisome because individuals have been losing a lot of chickens since the start of August.
"At one house we visited the owner had lost 23 chickens in two days, so one can see how serious this is," said Iyambo.
Around the same time last year in August, the northern communal areas experienced a Newcastle disease outbreak that killed over 4,000 chickens.
The outbreak affected Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions.