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Nigeria Reports Deadly Bird Flu

Nigeria has confirmed an outbreak of bird flu virus in its poultry stock. Laboratory tests in Nigeria and Italy had established a highly pathogenic strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus.

The Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health says it has received a report from Nigeria confirming the outbreak of bird flu in the north.

Thousands of chickens have been destroyed in the past few days following the outbreak.

The chief consultant epidemiologist at the Nigerian health ministry, Dr. Jide Coker, says Nigeria will rely on the international community for support in dealing with the problem.

"Health authorities and even agricultural experts all over the world are all concerned," Dr. Coker said. "You know if we have a pandemic on our hands, it is not only a Nigerian situation, it is a worldwide epidemic and as a result we in collaboration with the world health authorities are getting prepared."

A team of international experts is expected in Nigeria to assess the situation and provide technical advice.

Nigerian authorities say they have introduced measures to control the movement of animals and disinfected the affected farms. Dr. Coker said infected birds are being killed to stop the spread of the outbreak.

"I got information that some birds were killed. Even before the results are out, you need to take some measures to prevent further spread," the doctor said.

More than 80 people have been killed by the H5N1 strain of bird flu since 2003. An outbreak could have a devastating effect in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation. Millions in Nigeria have chickens in their backyards.

Scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that passes easily from person to person, sparking a human influenza pandemic.