Nigerian poultry industry is under threat from the incursion of Avian Influenza, also known as Bird Flu, which has the capability of infecting both birds and humans. All these point to apparent bio-security relaxation and breach, which has resulted in animal health challenges in some poultry farms.

At the last counted last week, a total of 139,505 birds have been associated with bird flu exposures in seven states of Kano, Lagos, Ogun, Delta, Plateau, Edo and Rivers with 22,173 or 15 per cent dead.

According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina in a statement, 15 commercial farms and nine live Bird Markets have been affected in these states. He was quick to point out that from hindsight, we are not in a state of any epidemic.

He revealed the most affected state as Kano, where the initial case of the bird flu was found. With a total of 103,445 birds reportedly exposed to the infection in Kano State, 15,963 have died as a result, leaving 15 per cent mortality like in the national overall. These cases were found in Gwale, Kumbotso, Tofa, Gaya and Ungogo local governments.

In the southwest, the heaviest poultry production belt of the federation, Ogun State, has in Sagamu reported two locations with one positive case at Ifo and another negative case, Sabo.

Of the 1,030 birds currently under watch in the two locations, 163 have experienced mortality.

In Lagos State, the total number of birds under close watch is 31,195 and 3,347 are reported dead from the disease.

Adesina said, “The three confirmed cases were from Somolu and Eti Osa local governments. All the farms have been quarantined and decontaminated. Other locations in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Mainland have already been quarantined, while awaiting confirmation.”

Other states like Rivers, Delta, Edo and Plateau have figures ranging between 200 and 1,550 mortalities.

The initial case of the flu was reported and confirmed on a commercial farm and in a live bird market in Kano and Lagos States respectively on January 8, 2015.

Adesina said although H5N was implicated in the outbreak, it has now been narrowed to type H5N1 virus after due analysis from certified reputable laboratories. According to the Minister, samples were forwarded to the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom and tested positive for H5 Strain of Avian Influenza virus. Now the result of the confirmatory samples sent to the International Reference Laboratory in Padova, Italy, for further characterisation has confirmed the serotype, ‘N1’.

Stakeholders and poultry operators are already at alert as the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) officials have been hard pressed sending messages to its members on increasing bio-security activities and surveillance.

Dr. Stephen Adejoro, veterinary consultant said the Agriculture Minister is addressing the issue, expressing his readiness to contain the plague and emphasising that there should be no panic.

However, Adejoro believes Nigeria’s experience on two different incursions of avian influenza is enough to put an end to this.

“Bird flu is not new in Nigeria and all over the world. Some countries in Asia have occurrences on annual basis. The precaution that is on ground in Nigeria, in terms of bio-security in most farms and on the consciousness of Nigerian consumers, which we had before is enough to manage the flu.”

He said there are many strains of avian influenza and not all of them are pathogenic or transferable to man. The ‘N’ serotype of it is of interest to PAN and the sector because some can trouble poultry, but not human beings. Even at that, stakeholders cannot fold their arms but improve on bio-security and also to create resistance in their stock of birds.

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