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Bird Flue Hits Africa

OIE has been in touch with manufacturers of avian-influenza vaccines for use in poultry and established that supplies are available to send to Nigeria. Discussions regarding funding are currently under way with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
by Kate Walker
Oxford, England (UPI) Feb 09, 2006
Bird flu has hit Africa, and it may have been there for some time. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) confirmed Wednesday that samples taken from the thousands of chickens found dead in northern Nigeria tested positive for H5N1 infection. A poultry farm in Kaduna owned by the country's sports minister, Alhaji Saidu Samaila Sambawa, saw 46,000 birds die from avian flu, Nigeria's VanguardOnline reported.

Alhaji Adamu Bello, Nigeria's agriculture minister, told the Vanguard: "Investigation has been going on for quite some time in this farm. Initially, we thought it was Newcastle or cold cholera, but some of them exhibited symptoms of avian influenza and the mortality rate at the farm continued to rise.

"In line with our policy, what we did when we found that there was high mortality at Sambawa Farms was to quarantine it. We did this even before it was confirmed it was avian influenza. We put into motion the actions that were put in place. That farm was quarantined and nothing was going in and outside the farm and the mortality continued to increase.

"Even as I talk to you, there is no single bird in that farm. They all died or were slaughtered. There are rules for slaughtering such birds because of the sensitive nature, otherwise you will be spreading the disease."

The Nigerian government has taken its flu-prevention responsibilities seriously, Bello affirmed. "We stamp out or slaughter virtually every bird in every farm that is suspected to have been infected with avian influenza, quarantine it and ensure that we stamp all the livestock in that farm. We will impose restriction of movement in any place that is strongly suspected to be harboring avian influenza until checks are done. There are procedures for this."

But there are concerns that the measures taken by the government will be largely ineffective if Nigeria does not also vaccinate its poultry. The country currently lacks a poultry-vaccination program.

OIE has been in touch with manufacturers of avian-influenza vaccines for use in poultry and established that supplies are available to send to Nigeria. Discussions regarding funding are currently under way with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.


-- Samples taken from a 13-year-old boy from southern Iraq who died Feb. 5 of flu-like symptoms are currently being tested for H5N1.

The boy, who died four days after being hospitalized with what was believed to be severe pneumonia, lived in a house with pet birds.

There had been no reported outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry in the region before the child's death.

Following the death from avian influenza of a girl in the country's northern Kurdish region last month, seven patients are currently being treated for apparent bird-flu infection in the area.

-- Two Indonesian women have been hospitalized with avian flu, the government announced Thursday.

The two women, aged 22 and 27, are not related, but come from the same Jakartan suburb. It is unclear how the two women became ill, but it is known that one of the two had had no direct contact with chickens -- the most common source of infection in Indonesia -- before she fell ill.

Hariadi Wibisono, director of control of animal-borne diseases at Indonesia's Health Ministry, said of the women: "We received the results last night. Their health condition now is worsening."

-- The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday that there was an outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in the country's northern Shanxi province.

Local veterinarians have culled 188,000 birds within a 5-mile radius of the outbreak.

-- The Romanian government has begun widespread poultry culling in response to a suspected H5N1 outbreak near the Danube River delta.

Preliminary tests on six chickens from the same farm indicate that the birds were infected with an H5 strain of avian influenza. The subtype has yet to be determined.

In addition to the culls, the affected village has been placed under quarantine and the movement of vehicles has been restricted.

-- Further cases and suspected cases of avian-influenza infection in birds have been reported in Hong Kong.

A chicken and an egret were found dead in suburban areas, reported. Tests on the egret showed that it was infected with H5N1, the government announced Wednesday.

Tests on the chicken are ongoing.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
World Organization for Animal Health

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