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Monday, July 20, 2015

Avian flu to gulp $20m

The resurgence of the deadly avian flu virus H5N1 across West Africa has sent jitters in the spine of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as it has call for a whopping $20 million, about N3.98billion to stem spread of the disease to all the parts of the region, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana are said to be among countries where the avian flu have made a comeback following outbreaks of the virus in poultry farms, markets and family holdings in these countries.

The disease comes even as some countries in West Africa are still recovering from, and in some cases still battling, Ebola. Avian flu could trigger a mass death of chicken – a nutritious and inexpensive source of food for many people– with detrimental impacts on diets and on the economy of the region, exacerbating an already difficult situation.

To save other countries from the flu, NaijaAgroNet learnt, FAO has embarked on assessment missions to Benin, Cameroon, Mali and Togo – to undertake in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health, the African Union, and in some cases with the World Bank –  the existence or otherwise cases of H5N1 in their poultries because these countries and other countries in the Sub-Region need to put preventive  measures in place.

Chief of FAO’s Animal Health Service Division, Juan Lubroth, said “Based on what we do know, there is a real risk of further virus spread. Urgent action is needed to strengthen veterinary investigation and reporting systems in the region and tackle the disease at the root, before there is a spillover to humans.”

While the first incursion of the H5N1 in West Africa occurred in 2006 it was eliminated by 2008. In late 2014, however, the virus was re-introduced in Nigeria, where it spread rapidly in the following three months - to date more than 1.6 million birds have been culled or have died from the virus, NaijaAgroNet reports.

Cyriacus Nnaji/GEE

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