Health service collapse

BY OWN CORRESPONDENT HARARE  The outbreak of avian flu among ostriches is just one more symptom of the breakdown of all basic services in Zimbabwe. With the departure of the majority of health professionals for greener pastures over the past few years and the collapse of the economy which has seen

serious shortages of all forms of drugs, the country has seen periodic outbreaks of many major diseases, including anthrax, cholera and dysentery. Fortunately, officials believe that the latest outbreak is the H5N2 strain, which is not dangerous to humans, and not the H5N1 version that has killed 70 people in Asia. However, further testing of samples sent from Zimbabwe is now underway in South Africa as the strain has not yet been isolated. The outbreak has been detected on two Zimbabwean ostrich farms, which are now under quarantine. The H5N1 strain has not yet been detected in Africa but experts say identifying it will be difficult because of poor surveillance and high mortality rates among backyard chickens.

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