- Title: NIGERIA: Nigerian authorities seek suspected human bird flu cases
- Date: 12th February 2006
- Summary: EXTERIOR OF PHED FARM
- Embargoed: 27th February 2006 12:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Health
- Reuters ID: LVAARX8Q23BA09B7WZRA0I9W0NXQ
- Story Text: Nigeria scrambled on Saturday (February 11) to discover whether people who had fallen ill close to where the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus was found had caught the disease and farmers culled thousands more sick chickens.
No human case of bird flu has been confirmed in Africa's most populous country, where H5N1 has killed tens of thousands of poultry, but it is hard for authorities to monitor because of logistical problems and the high mortality from other diseases.
But Nigeria's Health Ministry is trying to locate people who are reported to be ill, in order to test them for bird flu.
Samples have already been taken from some people in the areas affected by bird flu. If tests in Nigerian laboratories indicate the presence of bird flu, the samples are to be sent abroad for further testing.
At Phed Farm near the village of Danbare in Kano state -- close to Sovet Farm where one of the H5N1 samples came from -- farm workers in shorts and sandals were killing chickens with knives and using their bare hands to toss them into fires. They said the farm had lost thousands of chickens in the past few days and they were culling the rest of the flock. Their hands and clothing were spattered with chicken blood and the only protective equipment they had were surgical face masks.
Information about bird flu and protection against it has been slow to filter out in the impoverished region.
Trade in live fowl is unabated and people are moving chickens around by public transport as usual
Officials in the far northern state of Katsina said they suspected an outbreak of bird flu at a small poultry farm in the state capital, a few kilometres from the border with Niger.
A confirmed outbreak in Katsina would raise fears of the virus spreading into neighbouring countries. Niger is one of several African countries that have announced bans on imports of Nigerian poultry, but the bans will be hard to enforce.
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