Nigeria Avian Flu Spreads as Movement of Livestock Banned

Nigeria has recorded incidents of avian flu in seven of the country’s 36 states, prompting measures including the ban on movement of livestock in the affected areas to contain the spread, Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said.

The current outbreak of avian influenza, which began on Jan. 8, affected 21 commercial farms, nine bird markets and a private zoo, Adesina told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Abuja. At least 140,000 birds were infected, with about 22,000 mortalities recorded from the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.

“We are not in state of any panic,” he said. “We are taking all measures necessary to ensure public safety is protected and that the poultry industry is not significantly affected.”

Nigeria first recorded the H5N1 strain of the avian influenza, which can also infect humans, in 2006. That year it spread to 13 states, leaving one person and thousands of birds dead.

In response to the latest outbreak, authorities in Africa’s most populous country have quarantined infected areas, placed restrictions on livestock movements in the states and activated an emergency response plan. Notices of the latest outbreak have also been sent to the World Organization for Animal Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization and other development partners, according to the minister.

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