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Fresh Outbreak of Bird Flu Confirmed in Nigeria


Nigeria's agriculture ministry has confirmed a new outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu in the northern state of Kano. Dead chickens were found to be infected.

Avian Flu Control teams have destroyed more than 16,000 chickens on a farm near Kano, to try to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Nigerian Veterinary Research Institute said Thursday it had tested samples of dead chickens from the farm, and found them to be infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.

Aminu Isa, is a Kano resident, who has been following the bird flu outbreak in the city. He says farmers in the area are reluctant to report bird deaths.

"The problem is, because of the poor compensation, many farmers are even unwilling to report the outbreak of the virus on their farms," he said. "Because they believe, if they keep quiet, and decide to kill them and sell them, they will make more money. So, even the farmers want to play things down."

The government says it is worried at the resurgence of the disease in Kano, a month after it was declared free of the virus. The government, with the help of international organizations, has intensified its surveillance.

The United States Thursday gave Nigeria specialized equipment and supplies worth $350,000 to support the fight against the spread of avian influenza.

Ezenwa Nwakanobi, an official of the agriculture ministry, who also chairs the local veterinary association, says the government will move quickly to stem the possible spread of the virus.

"We know very well that, in fact, they don't only have the capacity and the capability to handle the situation, but they have been doing it so wonderfully well," he said. "And we are sure that, even this, I will say 'escape' of a case coming up in Kano, if it had not already been done, very soon will be completely taken care of."

Six sub-Saharan African countries have reported the virus since it was first detected in Nigeria last February. So far, no human cases have been reported among Nigeria's estimated population of 130 million.

More than 450,000 birds have been killed as part of preventive measures.

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