Bird Flu: FG Compensates Poultry Farmers



Poultry farmers from 18 states whose birds were killed to contain the bird flu which hit the country recently are now being compensated for losing more than 1.4 million birds

| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jul 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |

MORE than 1.4 million birds were destroyed to stamp out Avian Influenza, AI, popularly called bird flu that hit poultry farms early this year, according to the National Veterinary Research Institute, NVRI. Mohammed Ahmed, executive director, NVRI, last Sunday said that 18 states were affected by the flu whose last case was reported on May 28.

The institute’s laboratory diagnosis of 800 suspected cases had 500 testing positive to the disease. The NVRI boss said: “Payment of compensation for the destroyed birds is already in progress; it started and stopped at a point, but it has resumed,” observing that the compensation was being handled by the federal government and appealed to the states to help by initiating steps to assist farmers.

“Since it is the economies of the affected states that are being largely affected, the states should augment the compensation as they did during the first outbreak years ago. The states should specifically help in the design of poultry farms to encourage bio-security of the farms.”

He particularly warned against cluster farms and blamed that trend for the large number of birds that had to be destroyed. The NVRI boss singled out Plateau and Kano as states with the largest concentration of cluster farms, and explained that the flu usually spread faster and engulf more birds in cluster farms. He expressed satisfaction that the flu was contained in a few months compared to the first outbreak.

“More birds had to go because the production of poultry has changed with the cluster farms. In Rantya, a village in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, for instance, the cluster farms are so close and heavily concentrated in one vicinity. We are not taking anything for granted and have therefore gone into active surveillance. We have already trained people to take samples; their task is to buy and test chickens randomly from farms and live birds markets all over the nation. We are virtually out of the passive, so we must go to look for possible cases. There are states and federal offices and officers to handle surveillance even in the remotest of the rural settlements. Such surveillance is usually the most expensive part of disease control, but Nigeria is being supported by some interventions from the World Bank, FAO, USAID and other development partners,” he said.

Ahmed said that the federal government was also carrying out forensic investigation to ascertain how the disease came into the country. “We are forced to do that because what was diagnosed in NVRI laboratories is not related with previous cases, it is a new introduction all together.”

He said that there were many speculations with humans suspected to be possible carriers, while poultry importations could also be a source of disease dissemination. Ahmed, however, expressed happiness that no human case had been found, saying that people tested, including farm workers, proved negative.

The NVRI boss disclosed that another poultry disease, known as Newcastle disease, was being zeroed in for eradication by the international community through vaccinations like Thermo stable and MDV12 that is usually targeted at poultry farmers in the hinterlands.

The federal government had on Wednesday, January 28, announced that bird flu, was present in 11 states of the federation. It listed the states as Oyo, Jigawa, Gombe, Imo, Kano, Lagos, Ogun, Delta, Rivers, Edo and Plateau.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, had warned that outbreaks of AI in poultry may raise global public health concerns due to their effect on poultry populations, their potential to cause serious disease in people, and their pandemic potential. Reports of highly pathogenic AI epidemics in poultry, such as A(H5N1), can seriously impact local and global economies and international trade. The world body said majority of human cases of A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry as there is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food.

The WHO said controlling the disease in animals is the first step in decreasing risks to humans. AI viruses can sometimes spread to domestic poultry and cause large-scale outbreaks of serious disease. Some of these AI viruses have also been reported to cross the species barrier and cause disease or sub-clinical infections in humans and other mammals.


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