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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Flu - Public Health -

More Nigerian states hit by bird flu infection

Flu • • Public HealthDec 25, 06

The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus has spread in the last few weeks to two new states in Nigeria and reappeared in two others where it was believed to have been contained, officials said on Friday.

Nigeria is one of three countries regarded by experts as the weakest areas in the global attempt to stem infections among birds and head off a potentially devastating human flu pandemic.

The disease was first discovered in the northwest state of Kaduna in February and it spread rapidly in the early weeks to 12 other states and the Federal Capital Territory, despite culling and quarantine measures.

In the last two months, the virus was detected in the northeast state of Borno and the central state of Kwara for the first time. It also resurfaced in the northwest state of Kano, with the latest outbreak on Tuesday, and reappeared in the southwest state of Ogun, near Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos.

“We have never really been free of bird flu. The disease keeps recurring. There were two new cases in Borno and Kwara states in November and we immediately cleaned them up,” Junaidu Maina, head of Nigeria’s livestock department told Reuters.

“There were also fresh cases in Kano and Ogun, but these are states that had already been positive,” Maina said by telephone from the capital, Abuja. Officials say disaffection with the government’s compensation system discourages farmers from reporting bird deaths, making it more difficult to detect the spread of the virus.


Maina said the new infections may have been triggered by the movement of livestock across the West African country, adding that things could get worse when migratory birds begin to arrive from other infected areas.

The new cases of avian influenza on three farms in Kano were reported on Dec. 4, 7 and 19 and have since been dealt with, said Salihu Jibrin, the state director of veterinary services.

The H5N1 virus can infect people who come into close contact with sick birds. It has infected about 206 people since 2003 and killed at least 114, according to the World Health Organisation.

Nigeria was the first African country to be hit by the highly pathogenic virus, but it has not reported any human cases of the disease although experts warn that surveillance may not be completely effective and cases may have gone undetected.

An estimated 60 percent of Nigeria’s poultry is kept by backyard farmers, making human-to-bird contact more common and surveillance more difficult.

Thousands of poultry have died or become infected in Nigeria since the H5N1 virus was first detected, hitting farmers badly. Many Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day and are too poor to afford the luxury of rejecting infected or dead chickens, raising concern among experts on bird flu that Nigeria is at risk of becoming a permanent host to the virus.

The risk is elevated with Christmas and the Muslim Eid festivals only days away because consumption rises

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