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New Cases of Bird Flu In Nigeria- What You Must know about the Deadly Virus

The deadly and highly contagious virus (Avian Influenza) that causes Bird flu has resurfaced in several states in Northern Nigeria.
This was made known by Dr Gideon Mshelbwala, the Director of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development during a meeting with state Commissioners of Agriculture in Abuja on 2nd June,2017.
Currently, six states and FCT have reported the outbreak of Bird flu. These are :
  • Bauchi
  • Kaduna
  • Kano
  • Katsina
  • Nasarawa
  • Plateau
According to News Agency of Nigeria, Dr Gideon said that the disease had spread across 26 states of the federation and the FCT since it started in 2008 affecting 800 farms in no fewer than 123 local government areas. Furthermore, he said that the Federal Government has paid over N674 million in compensations to 269 farmers across the affected states.
The recent outbreak of Bird flu in Nigeria does not come as a surprise. According to Food and Agricultural Organization, “avian influenza has become so entrenched in poultry production and marketing systems” in Nigeria. therefore it will be difficult to eliminate.  Nigeria has had more than 750 outbreaks of bird flu, with nearly 3.5 million birds dead or culled, the agency said.
 In order to prevent its spread, take time to review the facts about Avian Influenza popularly known as Bird Flu.

What You need to know about Bird flu

Let’s consider expert answers to 5 top questions about Bird flu.

1. What is Bird flu?
Bird flu is caused by Avian influenza virus. The most popular strain of the virus is  H5N1 which is very deadly.  It occurs commonly in wild birds but spreads to domestic birds like chicken, turkeys, ducks etc. Infected birds transmit the virus through  secretions from the nose, eyes ,mouth and feces. Millions of birds have been slaughtered to control to control the spread of Bird flu. This has had a huge economic impact on several developing countries including Nigeria.
2. Can humans catch Bird flu?
Yes. The first human case was reported 20 years ago. It is contagious and deadly. Up to 60% of persons infected so far have died. The highest numbers of human cases have been reported in Egypt, Indonesia and Vietnam. Gladly, for unexplained reason s bird flu doesn’t spread from person to person easily.
3. What are the symptoms of Bird flu?
An infected person experiences flu-like symptoms such as:
  • Headaches
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Passage of watery stool
4. How does it spread from birds to man?
Mostly through direct contact with infected birds. Therefore, poultry farmers, anyone that comes in contact with infected birds  and  health workers are highly at risk. Although it is safe to eat eggs and poultry, always ensure these are properly cooked to eliminate the risk of infection.
5. How can you avoid Bird flu?
  • You need to avoid contact with infected poultry
  • Do not eat raw or under-cooked eggs
  • Cook chicken thoroughly before eating.
  • Always wash surfaces that have come in contact with raw poultry
  • Wash your hands regularly and properly
  • Turn away from people when you sneeze
  • Ensure your immunizations are up to date 

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