After two years without any reported outbreak, the federal government recently alerted poultry farmers and other stakeholders of the outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu in the country. Dr. Olaniran Alabi, Director, Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, in a statement, said the ministry had received a report of the outbreak from the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) Vom, Plateau State, adding that it has activated all the necessary surveillance mechanisms across the 36 states. The National President, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Mr. Ibrahim Ezekiel Mam, who also confirmed the outbreak, said South Korea and a few other countries are also experiencing the outbreak. Already, two infected farms have been depopulated in Plateau State.
The best way to prevent infection with avian influenza viruses, according to experts, is to avoid sources of exposure as much as possible. Infected birds carry the avian influenza virus in their saliva, mucous and feces.
According to the PAN president, avian influenza is an airborne disease, usually occurring during cold weather – between November and February. He advised farmers to restrict the movement of people to their farms. “Farmers should make sure they disinfect all their equipment and ensure the environment is not accessible to pests because if they have contact with poultry, they can easily infest the farm,’’ he advised.
He also stated that if infected wild birds are in the area, the movement of people, vehicles or equipment to and from areas where the chickens are kept should be reduced. He noted that poultry farmers should change their clothes before and after contact with their flocks, and ensure that visitors do the same. He said: “farmers should note that the disease is spread by direct bird-to-bird contact, through contaminated body fluids or through contaminated water, feed, vehicles, clothing and footwear. Daily Trust