Bird Flu - Archives
Nigeria - It's Official
The WHO's regular "Cumulative
Number of Confirmed Human Cases of Avian Influenza" report now contains
one extra country - Nigeria.
Since late-2003, a total of 271 cases of human bird flu infection have been
reported in 11 countries, with 165 deaths.
Vietnam has recorded 93 cases, with 42 deaths. Indonesia has recorded 81
cases, with 63 deaths.
February 5th, 2007
Bird Flu in Nigeria - Alarm and Shrugs
Did a Nigerian lady die of bird flu? According to
The government of Nigeria has announced the death from suspected avian
influenza infection in a 22-year-old female from Lagos. She died on 16
January 2007. The mother of the 22-year-old died on 4 January with similar
Preliminary tests on the samples from the 22-year-old were positive for
influenza A/H5. Samples have now been sent to a WHO Collaborating Centre for
Reference and Research on Influenza for confirmation. Results are expected
shortly. No samples were taken from the mother.
The confirmation by the federal government on Wednesday that a Nigerian
woman who died recently in Lagos tested positive to H5N1 bird flu virus, has
been challenged by the Vetenary Medical Association Nigeria [VMN] which
described the test as inconclusive.
Similarly, the minister of Agriculture Mallam Adamu Bello admitted that the
woman probably didn't die of bird flu as claimed, saying the result of the
confirmatory test currently going on in Italy could prove otherwise.
headlines its own report: "Bird flu death alarms some Nigerians, others
February 3rd, 2007
Don't Forget Africa
For a while now it seems that most bird flu news is coming out of Asia -
particularly Indonesia. So the World Health Organization serves a
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned that
unless African countries are adequately prepared, a pandemic of avian
influenza would remain a threat to the continent.
"This potentially catastrophic situation requires strong government
leadership for the finalisation and timely implementation of national
multisectoral preparedness and response plans," Dr Luis Sambo, WHO regional
director for Africa, told the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in the
Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
August 29th, 2006
Expanding in Africa
Bird flu springs many surprises. Usually they're unpleasant, but a happy
surprise - confounding many experts - has been the paucity of H5N1 outbreaks
in Africa. This could change.
While avian influenza has been successfully checked in Western Europe and
much of Southeast Asia apart from Indonesia, it is still expanding in Africa
and will remain a threat for years to come, FAO Deputy Director-General
David Harcharik told a high- level meeting of the United Nations Economic
and Social Council in Geneva today.
...Mr. Harcharik cited difficulties in enforcing appropriate control
measures such as culling, farmer compensation and checks on animal movements
in African countries. Another complication was illegal trade in poultry.
"Until such trade is effectively checked by stronger official veterinary
authorities, and until better surveillance, alert-response, diagnostics and
reporting is achieved, the risk will remain with us," Mr. Harcharik said.
July 11th, 2006
Ostriches Culled in South Africa
South African authorities have
culled 60 ostriches on bird flu concerns. However, H5N1 is not
July 4th, 2006
Cameroon has become the
fourth country in Africa – after Nigeria, Niger and Egypt – to report bird
flu, although it is still not known if it is H5N1. Meanwhile, testing is
being carried out in Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia and Sierra Leone.
Third African Country
Hit – Egypt, Nigeria, and Now Niger
Bird flu has
jumped the border from Nigeria to Niger. Meanwhile, in Nigeria a poultry
producers group says the
disease is spreading there, because farmers are reluctant to notify the
authorities of outbreaks. Poultry farmers in Ghana have
the virus has arrived in their country.
Europe Good, Africa Bad?
There’s quite a strong
case to be made that the discovery of bird flu in Italy and Greece is a good
thing. The reason? Given bird migration patterns, it was pretty inevitable
that H5N1 would arrive in Western Europe, and its quick detection shows that
systems are working to protect farmers, consumers and the general
In contrast, the
discovery of the flu in Nigeria suggests that H5N1 has been rampant on the
continent for some months.
New York Times sums it up:
The discovery of the
Italian outbreak seemed to be a model of early detection, underlining how
bird flu can be controlled in countries that have the money and the
scientific resources to do it.
Outbreaks in poor
countries like Nigeria, Turkey and Iraq percolated for months before they
were discovered, allowing the virus to spread widely to commercial chicken
flocks and even to humans.
…"There is no
immediate danger for our country," Mauro Delogu, an Italian virologist at
the University of Bolgona, told ANSA, "because our system of surveillance is
efficient and has not contaminated bird farms."
Concerning Nigeria, that
country’s Vanguard newspaper presents a
fascinating interview with Emmanuel Ijewere, formerly president of the
Red Cross of Nigeria and now retired and running a poultry (and other meat)
He explains in
considerable detail why Nigeria is ill-prepared to combat a major bird flu
outbreak, or other kind of emergency. One of his examples:
in Nigeria is almost zap. If there is a major disaster in Nigeria, we
wouldn’t be able to cope. In Lagos, in particular, the fire brigade that was
set up at independence still exists today. But, how many vehicles do they
have? And they have been honest enough to say if your building is above
three floors and there is fire, you are on your own. Because their hoses
cannot get there, even when it gets there, they do not have water….So, there
is this whole problem of lack of preparedness. God forbid, if anyone of us
should have fire in the house, you must put it out by yourself. Because, if
he is going to wait for the fire brigade, the fire would have consumed the
place before they arrive, and when they arrive they will do nothing. We are
all on our own. There is no preparedness, we need to address that, it’s very
Nigeria – Much Worse to
No more news from
Nigeria in the past 24 hours – and that has to be good – but officials are
worried that things could get much worse.
Alex Thiermann of the
World Organization for Animal Health, which works closely with the United
Nations, says Africa's first documented case of avian flu is of great
concern for the entire continent.
"And it's something
the OIC has been saying for awhile, that were the disease to get to Africa -
it's a continent where most countries have very weak veterinary
infrastructure - the rapidity to which the disease can be fought, and how
quickly we can eliminate it, has to do very directly related to the quality
of the veterinary infrastructures," he said.
Experts are concerned
that sub-Saharan Africa, with about 600 million of the world's poorest
people, is particularly ill-equipped to deal with a major health crisis.
They say any mass
slaughters, such as those used to control the virus in Asia, will be
BBC seems to
The WHO's regional
director in Africa said international support had arrived but most of it in
the form of technical advice and not what the region needs most - money.
Police marksmen, ordered to cull 180 ostriches at a farm in the
virus-stricken north, killed only 120 birds before running out of bullets,
the Associated Press news agency reported.
And hints of worse to
come are in this on-the-spot report from
Nigerian poultry farm
workers used their bare hands to throw dead chickens onto fires as village
children stood by to watch in an area where the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus
has been found. Villagers said their domestic poultry were dying too,
reinforcing suspicions that bird flu may be present not only in large
commercial farms but also in people's backyards in Africa's most populous
At a farm near Hawan
Dawaki village in the northern state of Kano, where two farms have confirmed
cases of H5N1, workers in normal clothes and sandals carried handfuls of
dead and dying chickens to a field to burn them.
"We are working on
this farm without taking care of our health, but what else can we do? We are
calling on the government to come and help us," said Alhaj Danliti, the
manager of the farm, which is a stone's throw away from the village.
He said the farm had
lost 10,000 chickens, almost its entire stock, and he did not know the
nature of their disease. Several chickens collapsed and died with a yellow
liquid leaking from their beaks.
Bird Flu in Africa
It’s the news we have
all been dreading – poverty-stricken, AIDS-weakened Africa has been hit with
bird flu. I have already
written several times about experts’ fears of the havoc that could be
unleashed were H5N1 to reach the continent. So far no human infection has
According to the
World Health Organization:
At present, the only
confirmed H5N1 outbreak is thought to be confined to a large commercial
farm, located in Kaduna State in the northern part of [Nigeria], where
thousands of chickens were kept in battery cages. Investigations are
urgently needed to determine whether the outbreak, which began almost a
month ago, has spread from the farm to affect household flocks. Poultry
deaths in the adjacent province of Kano have been reported, but the cause
has not yet been determined.
The most immediate
public health need is to reduce opportunities for human infections to occur.
Investigations of human cases in Asia and elsewhere have identified close
contact with diseased or dead household poultry as the most important source
of human exposure to the virus.
In Nigeria, as in
other parts of Africa, most village households maintain free-ranging flocks
of poultry as a source of income and food. Close human contact with poultry
Washington Post and
Herald Tribune have further reports.
few weeks will be critical, as millions of birds engage in their annual
migration from Europe and Eastern Asia to Southern Africa. The
Broadcasting Corporation quotes the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s
Chief Veterinarian Dr Joseph Domenech, as stating about bird flu:
arrive in Africa in the following weeks, particularly eastern Africa,
sub-Saharan Africa. And the concern is that the veterinary services and the
farmer systems are not in a good position to detect immediately, it will
spread to domestic poultry farms.
A WHO risk
assessment for Africa is
Reuters carries an
extensive report on Africa’s preparations (or lack of them) for a bird flu
outbreak. Some key points:
The main risk is seen
along East Africa's Rift Valley, where impoverished rural populations are
already struggling under the twin disease burdens of AIDS and malaria. Birds
migrating from Asia to the northern hemisphere for winter stop over in
freshwater ponds, dams and lakes, possible conduits for the virus, along the
Valley -- a vast geographical and geological feature that runs north to
south for 5,000 km (3,100 miles) from northern Syria to central Mozambique.
East Africa is more
vulnerable to bird flu than Europe and its lack of preparedness causes grave
concern, a U.N. food agency expert said on Monday. Joseph Domenech,
veterinary chief at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said the wild
bird migratory patterns that had brought the virus to Turkey and Romania
ended in East Africa, making it likely the disease would arrive there.
"There are three big
migration routes through Africa. There is a west African one that hugs the
coastline and involves birds from western and northern Europe," said Doug
Harebottle of the Avian Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town.
Harebottle said the other routes took birds from central Europe, the Middle
East and Central Asia down through the Rift Valley, while birds from further
east in Asia flew along Africa's Indian Ocean coast.