The Minister of Health and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, has disclosed that a new strain of Avian Influenza virus, also known as bird flu, has entered the country and has spread to 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
He also revealed that over 3.5 million birds have been affected.
He noted that neighbouring countries have proposed a ban on poultry and poultry products from Nigeria in order to prevent the disease from entering the country.
He disclosed this in Abuja yesterday at a consultative meeting with commissioners for agriculture/livestock, states directors of veterinary services and major stakeholders in the poultry industry.
According to him, the first outbreak of bird flu in the country was reported in 2006 and spanned through 2008, but was controlled and eradicated through concerted efforts facilitated by the availability of resources from a World Bank-sponsored project and support from the country’s development partners.
The minister said, “Almost a decade later, precisely in December 2014, the disease reoccurred in a commercial poultry farm and a live bird market in Kano and Lagos states, respectively. The current status of the disease in the country is quite alarming; it has now affected 26 states and the FCT, with over 3.5 million birds culled so far.
“Recently, a new strain of the bird flu virus (H5N8) was reported in Kano. The new strain is believed to be very pathogenic and more devastating to poultry species and, therefore, it may further add to the burden of the H5N1 strain that is currently circulating in the country.
“The disease is transboundary in nature and also trade-limiting; some of our neighbouring countries have proposed to ban poultry and poultry products from Nigeria. This may undesirably lead to an egg glut in the country.”
“The Federal Government is determined to continue to work with state governments, PAN and other stakeholders in the poultry industry to come up with sustainable measures to prevent, control and eradicate this disease from our country within the shortest time possible. This is the major reason for our meeting here today.
“But I want to assure you that we are looking for money and we will pay the compensation.”