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Nigeria, US Partner to Combat Bird Flu

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In response to the recent outbreak of the Avian Influenza otherwise known as Bird Flu in Nigeria, the government of the United States through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is involved in cooperation with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health to fight the disease.

This was made known by the US Consul General, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins Jr. on Monday in Ibadan at the opening of a 2-day workshop tagged, “Training of Trainers on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza”.

Hawkins noted that Bird Flu constitutes a serious threat to the economy and human health, saying this informed the decision to provide necessary training for veterinarians to equip them with the information required to fight the disease.

“It is vital that we get the right message out and that the job gets done right. Those conducting surveillance and responding to the infection need to know how to do their job. They must know how to dispose of infected birds properly and how to disinfect their pens and surroundings thoroughly. We must get this right,” he said.

He added that each person trained at the workshop has a ripple effect as the trainer was expected to train others too and that this would go a long way in bringing the outbreak under control very quickly.

Speaking at the event, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, who was represented by an official in the ministry, Dr. Ademola Majasan said, the workshop was put together to build the capacity of officers involved in the containment of the disease and complement the national effort to combat the Avian Influenza.

He added that though the disease affects poultry birds, it also has great implications for public health, especially when it is not properly handled, saying the disease has the potential to wipe out the entire poultry population in an affected farm in 72 hours.

“Our target is to ensure that the disease is effectively contained, while not creating unnecessary public panic. We have engaged the services of experts to assist in the containment of the disease, in addition to the setting up of the support of an inter-ministerial technical committee coordinated by my ministry, the Ministry of Health, Information, Environment, Science and Technology as well as other parastatals and the Poultry Association of Nigeria,’’. the minister said.

He said the ministry has taken every necessary measure to ensure that public safety is protected; assuring that Nigeria was managing the recent outbreak with a strong commitment and determination.

According to USAID, ‘over 160 participants from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Health and the poultry sector participated in the training in Ibadan’. A similar training had been held in Kano.

The first official case of the recent outbreak was confirmed at a commercial farm in Kano on January 8, 2015. Eighteen states have so far been affected.

Before the recent outbreak, the last outbreak of the disease in Nigeria occurred between February 2006 and July 2008. It affected a number of poultry farms in 25 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and led to the depopulation of about 1.2 million birds. Compensation of about N631m were paid to affected farmers.

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