The mysterious death of swallows in Malawi had raised fears about the possibility of a bird flu outbreak in South Africa. However, test reports have revealed a negative bird flu infection status of the dead swallows, much to relief of veterinary officials.
"We have tested samples that were sent to us from Malawi and they all tested negative. They were from migratory swallows, which were dying in large numbers. We don't know what killed them but the important thing is that it was not bird flu," said Celia Abolnik, a senior researcher at South Africa's Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute.
Tests have been conducted on droppings from birds that spend the winter in the northern hemispherical region of the Country. No evidence of bird flu has been documented in the analysis conducted so far. In addition, domestic wild ducks would be tested in March or April.
So far, the much-dreaded H5N1 viral bird flu strain has not been detected in Africa. However, more than a million birds have been slaughtered and nearly 70 persons have lost their valuable lives in Asia alone.