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Bird Flu Virus Reported In Remote Nigerian State

The remote state, Taraba, in eastern Nigeria, has reported the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. Official sources, however, point out that in most //of the other parts of Africa, the spread of the virus is slow.

Nigeria, the first African country to be hit by bird flu, has not reported any human cases, although experts warn that due to ineffective surveillance, cases may have gone undetected.

Bird flu virus has now been reported in 14 of Nigeria's 36 states and in the Federal Capital Territory. The most recent state was Lagos in April.

Director of the National Veterinary Research Institute, Lami Lombin, said, "We have identified it in three places in Taraba, one commercial farm and two places where there are backyard poultry.”

"There are a few places in Plateau and Kaduna where we are still getting new outbreaks. Elsewhere all the samples we're getting are negative," he added.

Within the first few weeks of detecting the cases, bird flu spread rapidly among the poultry throughout the country, despite several measures to control it such as culling and quarantine.

Veterinary officials say it is not a safe idea to consider the disease contained, although recent evidence suggests that measures taken to restrain its spread are working better than at the start.

The H5N1 virus affects people who come into close contact with the infected birds. 228 people have been infected since late 2003, and at least 130 killed, says a World Health Organisation report.


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