An outbreak of the bird flu has been reported in Cameroon. Livestock officials in Yaoundé say the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza strain was detected in scores of domestic poultry that died in Maroua, in the far north of the country. Cameroon becomes the fourth African country to be affected, after Nigeria, Niger and Egypt.
Joseph Dominech is Chief of Animal Services for the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO. In an interview with V-O-A reporter Angel Tabe, he explained how ordinary farmers can detect the bird flu. He says “bird flu is very easy to suspect. When you have bird flu, most birds die within a few days.” He says the period between detecting the virus and effecting control measures is very crucial. “To be able to react immediately, especially if there is some delay sending people to the field, taking samples, getting positive results, that’s a very difficult thing.”
Dominech says Cameroon’s cross-border interaction with Nigeria is responsible for the virus’s presence there. “It’s about ducks in the extreme north of the country which is (also) very close to the northern part of Nigeria...(They enjoy) close links in terms of wild birds but also trade... and it’s the same ecosystem.”
To reduce the spread, Dominech advises: “Act immediately, kill all animals, of the outbreak and stop movement of all products.” He adds “preventive measures like vaccinations may not work well everywhere. In commercial farms, it’s easy. But in villages, it’s difficult, so you have to stop the movement. It’s about investment, commitment, constant explanation, and communication.”