The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus continues to spread in poultry in Nigeria, and it warns there could be a regional disaster despite prevention efforts by Nigerian authorities.
The FAO estimates Nigeria’s poultry population at 140 million. It says backyard farmers make up 60 percent of the country’s poultry producers.
Joseph Domenech is the FAO’s chief veterinary officer. From Rome, he spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the spread of bird flu in Nigeria.
He says, “It’s a very serious and, I can say, worrying situation because a few states are infected and the fact that it was difficult to implement immediately control of movements [and] culling, which is totally normal. We have faced those sorts of problems everywhere in Asia when it started…. The trade movements are very, very dense, very numerous, very frequent. So, it took some time to implement properly control of movement.”
Domenech says both the federal and state governments in Nigeria appear committed to solving the problem, but he adds it will be difficult to stop the spread.
He says, “It could happen that in the following days a decision to start vaccination, at least targeted vaccination, will be taken.” I
t’s unknown how many poultry would be vaccinated, but a clearer picture is expected by the end of this week. The FAO official agrees that more information is needed to inform the people about the risks of bird flu and why it’s important to report poultry deaths.