More than 1.4 million birds were destroyed across Nigeria to stamp out bird influenza that hit poultry farms early this year, according to Mohammed Ahmed, the Executive Director, National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom.

Mr. Ahmed told the News Agency of Nigeria in Vom on Sunday that 18 states were affected by the flu whose last case was reported on May 28.

He said 800 suspicions were diagnosed in the institute’s laboratory out of which 500 tested positive to the disease.

The NVRI boss said that compensations for the destroyed birds were already being paid by the Federal Government.

“Payment of compensation for the destroyed birds is already in progress; it started and stopped at a point, but it has resumed,” he said.

He observed that the compensation was being handled by the Federal Government and appealed to the states to help by initiating steps to assist farmers.

Mr. Ahmed said that the disease had subsided but “certainly not over yet”.

“We are not taking anything for granted and have therefore gone into active surveillance.

“We have already trained people to take samples; their task is to buy and test chickens randomly from farms and live birds markets all over the nation.

“We are virtually out of the passive, so we must go to look for possible cases. There are states and federal offices and officers to handle surveillance even in the remotest of the rural settlements.

“Such surveillance is usually the most expensive part of disease control, but Nigeria is being supported by some interventions from the World Bank, FAO, USAID and other development partners.”

Mr. Ahmed said that the Federal Government was also carrying out forensic investigation to ascertain how the disease came in.

“We are forced to do that because what was diagnosed in NVRI laboratories is not related with previous cases, it is a new introduction all together,” explained.

He said that there were many speculations with humans suspected to be possible carriers, while poultry importations could also be a source of disease dissemination.

The official, however, expressed happiness that no human case had been found, saying that people tested, including farm workers, proved negative.

The NVRI boss disclosed that another poultry disease, known as Newcastle disease, was being zeroed in for eradication by the international community through vaccinations like Thermostable and MDV12 that is usually targeted at poultry farmers in the hinterlands.

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