Nigeria faces avian influenza crisis

Nigeria’s agriculture sector is struggling to bring an avian influenza outbreak under control.

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According to the Daily Trust newspaper in that country, the disease has been reported in 24 provinces and about 2,5 million birds have been euthanised and buried.

Kevin Lovell, CEO of the South African Poultry Association, said Nigeria has experienced recurring problems with avian influenza in the past decade – a sign of how difficult it is to eliminate the disease.

“The lesson for South African farmers is to accept that we have been lucky and should not think we are safe,” said Lovell. “Only by continuously improving the biosecurity on all farms, large and small, can we reduce our chances of infection.”

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South Africa’s poultry industry remains at risk because there’s a residual pool of avian influenza present in the country’s wild birds. “While we may not have the major bird migrations, especially of water fowl, that occur elsewhere in the world, we are also at risk even if it is a slightly different risk profile to some other parts of the world,” said Lovell.

According to Onallo Akpa, director-general of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, 12 live-bird markets across the country have been affected by the outbreak. He urged Nigerian farmers to improve their biosecurity measures.