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Nigeria Implements Emergency Bird Flu Measures

  • Gilbert da Costa

Nigeria is implementing emergency measures to contain the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus. Experts from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization are in Nigeria to assess the situation and help in containing the outbreak.

Nigerian authorities are killing thousands of chickens in a determined attempt to stop the spread of the deadly bird flu virus.

Some reports suggest that Africa's first bird flu outbreak is far from over, alleging more than 20,000 daily poultry infections.

Agricultural Ministry livestock director, Dr. Junaidu Maina, says Nigeria is carrying out an emergency plan to deal with the outbreak.

"We have an emergency preparedness plan that has been approved by government and this involves steps to contain the disease," he said. "So, the moment we got the confirmatory test, we have put the plan on and we are already operating it. Today, we are stamping out all the birds in Sambawa farms and we are also sending a team to Kano to continue."

Migratory birds have been identified as a major agent for the spread of bird flu. Dr. Maina says Nigeria is particularly vulnerable to bird flu because of its geographic location, which is within the pathway of migratory birds.

"Nigeria happens to fall within the pathway of migratory birds," he said. "I am not sure if it [bird flu] came through migratory birds, but what I am saying is that risk is there and for that there is very little you can do, except to put [in place] proper surveillance and try to find out as soon as you have the situation of the disease in your country."

The FAO has called on Nigeria and and its neighbors to act swiftly to stop the spread of the bird flu. Nigerian authorities say they have received no reports of human infection with H5N1, which has killed at least 88 people in seven countries since 2003.

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