Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Ebonyi State, Mr. Orji Uchenna, has confirmed the detection of the first case of Avian Influenza infection, popularly known as ‘Bird flu’ in the state.
According to him, the virus was detected at the weekend in a poultry farm located at Ugwuachara area of Abakaliki, following a massive death of the birds.
He said that officials of the State Veterinary Services took a sample of the carcass to a research institute in Jos where it was confirmed that the birds died from the H5NI strains of the Avian Influenza and has therefore, directed the veterinary department of the ministry in the state to isolate the farm, take inventory of all poultry and ancillary farms in the state while sustaining enlightenment on the influenza.
Director of the Veterinary Service and Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ibiam Okoro, who led the commissioner to the farm said the department had already mounted surveillance to contain the possible spread of the virus.
Explaining further, Dr, Okoro said that the strain detected in the farm is only transmissible from animal to animal and warned poultry farmers and the people of the state against the sale or consumption of sick or dead chicken.
The outbreak of the virus has also confirmed in three farms in Jos, killing 5,000, to 10,000 birds. In Kano, a total of 21,000 birds were depopulated in three farms reported to be have been attacked by the disease.
The outbreak in Kuje, Abuja, which involved 600,000 to 700,000 birds in one farm, is the worst ever recorded by a single investor in recent years in Nigeria. Consequently, awareness campaign is ongoing across the length and breadth of the country to contain further spread.
Human beings can catch bird flu by close contact with birds or bird droppings. Some people have caught bird flu from cleaning or plucking infected birds. In China for instance, there have been reports of infection by inhaling aerosolized materials in live bird markets. It’s also possible to be infected after swimming or bathing in water contaminated with the droppings of infected birds.
Some infections have also occurred in people who handle fighting cocks. People don’t catch the virus from eating fully cooked chicken or eggs. So far, there has been no sustained human-to-human spread of Avian Influenza.