The Federal Government on Wednesday said the number of states affected by bird flu (avian influenza) had increased from two to seven.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, told a news conference in Abuja that 140,390 birds had contracted the disease.
He added that out of the affected birds, 22,573 (16 per cent) had died.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had on January 15, 2015 announced that there had been unusual mortality in two poultry farms and five live bird markets in Lagos and Kano states.
The minister told journalists at the news conference on Wednesday, “We are not in a state of epidemic. Seven states have so far reported the bird flu: Kano, Lagos, Ogun, Delta, Rivers, Edo and Plateau states. To date, 21 commerical farms, nine live bird markets and one private zoo have been affected in the seven states.
“As of today, January 21, 2015, a total of 140,390 birds have been associated with bird flu exposures, with 22, 573 (16 per cent) mortality recorded.”
According to him, Kano State, where the initial case was found, is the most affected.
“A total of 103,445 birds have reportedly been exposed to the infection in Kano State, with 15, 963 (15 per cent) mortality reported,” the minister stated.
He said that the cases were found in Gwale, Kumbotso, Tofa, Gaya and Ungogo Local Government Areas in the state.
Adesina said that in Lagos State, the total number of birds under watch was 31,195, with 3,347 (11 per cent) mortality.
He further said that three confirmed cases were in Somolu and Eti-Osa in Lagos, adding that all the farms in the two LGAs had been quarantined.
The minister stated that other locations in Ikorodu, Ojo, Lagos Mainland had also been quarantined.
According to him, in Ogun State, two locations are under watch, with one case positive and another negative.
“Of the 1,030 birds currently under watch in the two locations, 163 (15 per cent) experienced mortality,” he added.
Adesina said that positive cases had also been reported in Rivers, Delta, Edo and Plateau with deaths ranging from 200 to 1,550.
The minister said that the affected states and Federal Government had embarked on various interventions, including depopulation, decontamination and quarantine of farms.
Adesina stated that the joint team of the federal and state governments had been able to contain the disease in Kano and Lagos states.
He said that reported cases in Delta and Rivers were being monitored, adding that Nigeria would successfully control the disease.
The minister said that directors of veterinary services in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had been told to be on the alert and to intensify bio-security measures to avert possible spread to other states.
According to him, the World Organisation for Animal Health; Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resource; and the Food and Agricultural Organisation have been notified.
Other measures, he said, were “Restriction of movement of live birds in and out of the affected states;
“Immediate reactivation of all animal health components of the emergency preparedness plan on bird flu in Nigeria;
“And conduct of surveillance activities around infected areas to determine the level of spread of the disease.”
He disclosed that the Poultry Association of Nigeria and the Agricultural Insurance Corporation were working out the possibility of extending insurance cover to poultry farmers.
The minister assured Nigerians that the recent reported cases of bird flu would not pose any risk to human beings.
“Research findings have confirmed that human infection with H5N1 virus, although possible, remains a rare event,” he said.
According to him, direct contact with infected poultry, surfaces and objects contaminated by their faeces are the main routes of human infection.
He also explained that exposure could occur during slaughtering, de-feathering and preparation of poultry for cooking.
The minister stated, “There is no evidence to suggest that avian influenza virus can be transmitted through the consumption of poultry and poultry products as long as standard precautions regarding food storage handling and preparations are followed.
“It is safe to eat poultry. However, consumers should ensure that poultry is thoroughly cooked (juice runs clear and no visible pink meat).’’
Adesina said that when cooking, internal temperatures for the whole chicken should reach 85 degree centigrade, for chicken parts it should be 74 degree centigrade.
Pleading for the support of state governments, he called for prompt reporting of disease outbreak to the chief veterinary officers.
He also said that there should be implementation of disease containment measures in states.
Adesina said states should cooperate with the Federal Government in enforcing restriction of movement of poultry and poultry products; provision of logistics and essential equipment to the state veterinary services as well as registration of poultry farms as provided by the ACT 10 of 1988.
He advised poultry farmers to report all disease conditions to the veterinary authorities; patronise only registered veterinary doctors and adhere to bio-security measures.
The minister also urged them to ensure marketers, transporters, visitors and service providers comply with bio-security measures.
The Federal Government was able to eliminate the bird flu from the country in 2006, when it was first discovered at Sambawa farms, Kaduna State, in January of that year.