Nigeria Seeks New Measures to Tackle Bird Flu as H5N8 Found

NIGERIA - A meeting has been held in Nigeria to try and come up with new solutions to help prevent avian influenza.
calendar icon 12 January 2017
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The H5N1 strain of the virus has been a problem for over a year, but the H5N8 strain was also recently identified in the country. The H5N8 strain has been highly destructive in Europe in recent months. Local media reports suggest millions of birds are currently affected.

Only one outbreak of H5N8 has been reported by Nigeria to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) at present, and that was in a small flock of 250 birds in Kano state.

The National Consultative Meeting on Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) took place in Abuja, with all State Commissioners of Agriculture and Directors of Veterinary Service, and was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The officials met to review past experiences and arrive at agreeable and implementable preventive measures against bird flu, the Ministry revealed on its Twitter account. Other issues examined included insurance for the poultry industry, sustainable and participatory cost sharing and compensation for affected farmers. Effective regulation of the poultry industry and adherence to biosecurity and hygienic practices also formed part of the discussions.

Some challenges identified include lack of compliance with on-farm quarantine measures and movement restriction of infected poultry, violation of bio-security measures which leads to rapid spread of the disease to other areas and states, and the reluctance of some poultry farmers to register with State Veterinary services for easy monitoring and regulation, amongst others.

Addressing the meeting, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh said: "We acknowledge our inability in the past to act promptly ahead of the disease and to complete payment of compensation to affected farmers. These outstanding compensations are due to financial constraints but we are sourcing for funds and I assure you that we have records of affected farmers and they will be compensated.

"But the time has come to re-strategise and work with the states to control and eradicate bird flu and other transboundary animal diseases. We are fully activating the Emergency Preparedness Plan to control the movement of birds and increase awareness on Bird Flu."

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