Thursday, February 09, 2006
Bird Flu In Nigeria Covers Hundreds Of Miles
International inspectors arrived in three Nigerian states hit by the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus on Thursday as authorities tried to persuade people to avoid contact with sick fowl.IC Publications:
Thousands of chicken have died in northern Nigeria over the past few weeks and the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health confirmed on Wednesday that the deadly H5N1 strain had arrived in Africa for the first time.
"Food and Agriculture Organisation inspectors are already in Kaduna, Kano and Jos, " said an official of the World Health Organisation in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
Identified earlier this week as "fowl cholera", the disease was spreading rapidly through farms in Kano State, killing tens of thousands of chickens, Auwalu Haruna, secretary of the Kano State poultry farmers' association, said.Thread post:
Nigeria announced Wednesday that Africa's first confirmed case of the H5N1 strain of bird flu -- which can be fatal to humans -- had been found in Sambawa Farm in Kaduna State, 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of Abuja.
The disease in Kano "is spreading like wildfire," Haruna told AFP.
"We have 20,000 new infections reported today, bringing the figure for infected birds to 80,000. What worsens the situation is the movement of infected poultry, in a frantic effort to minimise losses," he said.
Furthermore, Kano is near the Hadejia-Nguru inland river delta, which is a major wintering location for Northern pintail and garganey ducks. They summer in breeding grounds across Siberia, where there were numerous outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry and wild birds last summer. Birds of those species that winter in Turkey and around the Black Sea also summered in the same places in Siberia and migrants are thought to have carried H5N1 there.The Qinghai H5N1 strain has wreaked havoc everywhere it has been seeded. This happens on bodies of water like river deltas and lakes. The migrating birds bring it in and shed the virus, where it is picked up by the rest of the wild bird population.
The authoritative 1996 Atlas of Anatidae [ducks, geese and swans] Populations of Africa and Western Europe says the Northern pintail wintering in the Black Sea and Mediterranean basins “are lumped with those wintering in West Africa as a single large population”. On average, 18,000 pintails winter each year at Hadejia-Nguru. Similar numbers of garganey ducks follow the same migration and 500,000 of each species winter at nearby Lake Chad.
Some of the Northern pintail wintering now in Britain and along Europe’s North Sea and Atlantic coasts also spent last summer on the same breeding grounds as the pintail that subsequently flew to the Black Sea, Turkey and West Africa.
There were sporadic reports of H5N1 in Mongolia last year, and some birds from Mongolia fly over to Alaska. Europe and the US are next. Proposals to try to innoculate chickens in Africa will help there, but cannot possibly cover all the ground.