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Poultry Farmers in Nigeria Battle  Bird Flu

Reports that the bird flu virus is spreading in Nigeria is putting tremendous pressure on poultry farmers in the West African country.

These are very difficult times for poultry farmers in Nigeria. A visit to a poultry farm outside Abuja Tuesday revealed most farmers are taking the outbreak of bird flu very seriously.

A big black iron gate at the entrance of this farm was closed and virtually no one was being allowed in.
Farm workers wore thick, red gloves for protection against contamination.

Farm Manager Yusuf Mohammed talks about other measures to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus among the 20,000 chickens at the farm.

"Apart from wearing gloves, rainboots and face masks, the first one is that we don't allow anybody access to the farm, and even I myself whenever I come in, I [...] disinfect myself," Yusuf said. "And for our eggs,when we took eggs outside, on bringing back the empty crates, we [...] spray on them before so that there won't be any problem and if it happens that one of our customers bring in his own empty crate, we keep it outside or disinfect it before bringing it in into the farm. And whenever we notice that there is any of our birds that is looking sick, we [...] take it outside, that is, isolate it."

Chicken has always been a major meat source in Nigeria but sales have crashed in the wake of the deadly bird flu attack.

Agriculture Minister Adamu Bello says consumers could still enjoy their chicken if well prepared.

"Chicken which is well cooked doesn't transmit avian influenza, once it is cooked. I urge people to cook their food properly. Any chicken you get now, even if its healthy chicken, please cook it well," he said.

The Nigerian authorities say they are investigating reports that the bird flu virus may have spread to five more states including the capital Abuja.

Analysts say this suggest that the authorities are yet to have a firm grip on the spread of the virus.

Some experts say Nigeria, which reported Africa's first cases of the disease in birds, may not have done enough to stop the spread of the disease which has killed more than 90 people since 2003, mostly in Asia.