Bird flu epidemic devastates Nigeria

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Avian influenza has impacted Nigeria's poultry production
Avian influenza has impacted Nigeria's poultry production

Related tags: Avian influenza

Nigeria is grappling with a damaging bird flu epidemic that has caused the deaths of 90,000 chickens in less than a month. 

John Dasar, the Poultry Association of Nigeria’s chairman, confirmed that 31 farms across the state of Plateau have been closed as the industry struggles to contain its biggest outbreak in a decade.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria​ this week, Dasar confirmed that 90,000 birds have been killed and said the government has not helped poultry producers contain the virus.

Economic powerhouse

“Plateau is the hub of the poultry industry in Nigeria, owing to the fact that our products are unique and people come from different parts of the country to get eggs and chicken here,”​ Dasar said. “Unfortunately, the outbreak of avian influenza has done a lot of harm to the industry in the state. The government is not helping the issue [and] the outstanding compensation due to farmers affected in 2015 is contributing greatly to the spread of the disease.”

Nigeria is an economic powerhouse in Africa and its poultry industry is estimated to be worth around $600m, according to capital management firm Sahel.

The outbreak of the H5N1 strain – the same strain that tore through France last year – has hit backyard holdings, commercial farms and both broiler and egg farms.

Lack of biosecurity

It is the first serious outbreak of avian influenza for 10 years in the country.

Back in 2006, the country was hit with a huge avian influenza outbreak that started in a commercial poultry farm in Kaduna. A lack of biosecurity measures, coupled with a poor emergency response from the government, led to the deaths of 222,780 bids, according to the World Organisation on Animal Heath (OIE).

After this outbreak, the government organised a series of bird flu training methods, organised alongside the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to educate stakeholders on good biosecurity management.

No one from the Poultry Association of Nigeria was able to provide further comment.

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