Nigeria will contain bird flu — Minister

Poultry farm used to illustrate the story.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwunmi Adesina, on Wednesday assured that the Federal Government would contain the outbreak of bird flu in the country successfully.

Mr. Adesina gave the assurance in Abuja when he addressed a news conference.

The minister said he had directed a nationwide comprehensive surveillance, quarantine, depopulation and decontamination of all affected poultry farms and areas.

He said the ministry was working closely with state governments, the Poultry Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association and the Animal Science Association of Nigeria to contain the spread.

Mr. Adesina said all veterinary members of staff of the ministry had been deployed across the country to bring the situation under control, saying that the country was not in a state of bird flu epidemic.

He said the federal government, in collaboration with the Government of Canada, had supported the Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau, to acquire BSC level 3 facility for biosecurity.

The Agric Minister said the facility allows experts to do rapid diagnosis of diseases without travelling out of the country as was the case.

He said it was the first of its kind in West and Central Africa, adding that Nigeria was becoming the regional centre for excellence in that regard.

He said development partners such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had been duly informed about the outbreak.

According to Mr. Adesina, 140,390 birds had been associated with bird flu exposure, adding that 22,573 mortality had been recorded since the outbreak on January 8.

He gave the affected states as Rivers, Delta, Edo, Plateau, Ogun, Lagos and Kano, which he said had the highest level of casualty with 15,963 deaths recorded.

“I wish to assure all Nigerians that Nigeria will successfully control the bird flu outbreak.

“We have successfully controlled it in the past and have activated all necessary protocols and measures to ensure successful control this time,” he said.

Mr. Adesina said that the biotype of the disease had been confirmed, saying that it was due to H5N1 virus.

He said research had shown that human can be infected with the H5N1 virus even though it remains a rare event.

He said poultry product if cooked well was safe for consumption, adding that the main channel of infection was direct contact with infected surfaces or objects contaminated with faeces of infected birds.

Mr. Adesina urged all the citizenry to imbibe high level of hygiene and called on all stakeholders to cooperate with government to quickly control the outbreak.

He tasked poultry farmers on prompt reporting of any disease outbreak in their farms, urging them to patronise only qualified and registered veterinary officers.

Mr. Adesina said poultry farmers should adhere strictly to biosecurity measures from farm to market and register their farms in the office of the Director of Veterinary Services in the states.

He said insurance package was being put in place to ensure that affected farmers did not suffer complete loss.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that bird flu outbreak was first recorded in Nigeria in 2006.
It lingered till 2008 before it was contained.



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