Officials in the northern Nigerian city of Kano are investigating reports of a fresh outbreak of the deadly Avian flu virus. The report comes at a time experts are warning Nigeria not to drop its guard in the campaign against bird flu.
Samples of dead chickens from a farm near the city of Kano in northern Nigeria have been taken to the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, in central Plateau state, for laboratory analysis.
Officials of the Kano state avian flu control committee detected the presence of Avian flu among 16,000 chickens on a farm a few days ago, a month after the area was declared free of the virus.
Veterinary personnel in Nigeria have criticized the government's handling of the disease.
"It is actually something that we should be worried about, because, in the last few weeks, it appears the government had actually gone to sleep, and this is not the time, with an infection like bird flu, that the government goes to sleep," explained Bala Mohammed, the secretary of the Nigerian Veterinary Association.
Officials say several farms in Nigeria still have low pathogenic cases of bird flu, and thus are susceptible to a resurgence or an epidemic. Dr. Mohammed says evolving a more acceptable compensation package for those who lose their chickens and other fowl to disease, could be the key to eradicating bird flu in Nigeria.
"Some lost their birds to heat stress, some to Newcastle disease, some to other diseases, and claiming it is bird flu," he added. "So, no matter what amount that had been assigned to it, we are not going to achieve what government is trying to do in terms of economic losses, somehow. But the fundamental thing in trying to get people to report the disease is not being achieved, because they felt it is token. Everybody wants to lay claim of his mortality to bird flu, and we are not going to achieve anything."
The virus has been identified in 12 states, including the largest city, Lagos, as well as around the federal capital, Abuja, since it was first confirmed in Nigeria four months ago.
So far, no human cases have been reported in Nigeria's estimated 130 million population. More than 450,000 birds have been killed as part of preventive measures.
International experts say Nigeria should step up its aggressive control measures to effectively contain the threat of another major bird flu outbreak.