An outbreak of H5N1 virus responsible for  bird flu in Nigeria has spread to 21 commercial farms in seven different states, with more than 140,000 birds having been exposed to the virus, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, said on Thursday. Authorities said the deadly virus had arrived in Lagos in the South-west, and Kano in the North, last week.

Adesina said it had now spread to five other states across the country: Ogun, Delta, Rivers, Edo and Plateau. Around 100,000 of the birds exposed were in Kano, Adesina added.

“All the farms have been quarantined and decontaminated. Other locations in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Mainland have already been quarantined, while awaiting confirmation.” “Nigeria will successfully control the bird flu outbreak. We have successfully controlled it in the past,” he added. Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy was the continent’s first country to detect bird flu in 2006, when chicken farms were found to have the H5N1 strain. In 2007, it reported its first human death from the disease.

H5N1 bird flu first infected humans in 1997 in Hong Kong. It has since spread from Asia to Europe and Africa and has become entrenched in poultry in some countries, causing millions of poultry infections and several hundred human deaths. Meanwhile, the Lagos State chapter of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has urged farmers not to panic over the spread of the Avian Influenza virus in some parts of the country. The General Secretary of the association, Mr. Olugbenga Ogunsetan, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that PAN in conjunction with relevant government agencies were taking measure to contain the virus.

According to him, two live bird markets at Onipanu and Bariga have been fumigated following detection of virus strain there. He said the state Veterinary Department carried out the fumigation, advising the farmers not to conceal any suspicious mortality of bird in their areas. Already, he said some poultry farms and markets had been placed under red alert and surveillance. “Our farmers should not panic. They should pass the message and should not pass the fear. “There is nothing to panic about and they should not conceal any information about the virus.

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