Lagos State Government has urged the public to maintain adequate personal and environmental hygiene to curb the spread of the avian influenza virus popularly called bird flu. It gave the advice following the flu’s outbreak in some poultries in Lagos. In a statement yesterday, Commissioner for Health Dr Jide Idris advised the public to avoid contact with chickens, ducks or other birds; their feathers, faeces and other waste in areas with the disease.

Idris listed other measures that could help halt the spread of the disease to include; washing hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, particularly after touching any poultry, eggs or bird meat and keeping children away from sick or dead poultry and birds. “Please, avoid slaughtering and cooking of sick or already dead poultry or birds, ensure that poultry products and eggs are thoroughly cooked before eating, ensure rearing of poultry far from dwellings and sleeping areas and make sure cooking surfaces are well clean before and after preparation of poultry products,” he said.

The commissioner explained that the H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus presently circulating among chicken and other birds in the state is “highly infectious,” adding that it has caused death of millions of chicken and other birds. The strain, he said, killed 166 humans in 11 countries during the 2007 outbreak. “Avian influenza is spread by direct and indirect contact with sick or dead chicken, eggs, and also through handling and slaughtering of live infected poultry.

For now, there is no case of human infection in the state, only loss of chickens and other birds has been reported; human death has however been recorded with this present outbreak in some African countries,” Idris said.

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