Published On: Wed, Jul 13th, 2016

Avian flu ravaging West Africa

Poultry products from Burkina FasoLAGOS, (CAJ News) – THE outbreak of the avian influenza virus (H5N1) has left millions of birds dead or culled in the region, where Nigeria is worst affected.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has reported  the crisis as Cameroon became the latest African country to detect the disease.

This brings the number of countries that have battled bird flu in West and Central Africa to six, also including Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Niger.

“Nigeria continues to be most affected with the total number of outbreaks exceeding 750 with nearly 3,5 million birds dead or culled,” FAO stated.

The latest H5N1 outbreaks were recently confirmed on chicken farms in Cameroon putting the poultry production in the country and its neighbours at high risk. This is the first time the disease has been found in Central Africa since 2006.

The newly recorded outbreaks in Cameroon raise significant concerns that the disease may be advancing southward, triggering national and global emergency responses to contain the disease, and health screenings of poultry workers.

FAO, meanwhile, is alerting neighbouring governments to be vigilant and continue their heightened surveillance and prevention efforts, including common messaging to the public and data sharing between the public health and agriculture sectors.

“We’re looking at a quickly spreading disease that has devastating effects on livelihoods in communities,” said Abebe Haile Gabriel, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa.

H5N1 causes major losses of nutritious food and threatens farmers’ livelihoods, particularly in resource-poor environments where governments have difficulty providing financial compensation for losses.

CAJ News

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