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Bird flu outbreak kills 42,000 poultry in central Nigeria

By Olatunji Saliu ABUJA, (Xinhua) -- A bird flu outbreak in Nigeria’s central state of Plateau since last month has killed 42,000 poultry so far, leading to the catastrophic loss of revenues by poultry farmers and posing huge risks to consumers of poultry products in Africa’s most populous country.

The Poultry Association of Nigeria which gave the figure on Monday said in the past week more birds were depopulated in local farms due to the outbreak.

“This development has brought huge losses to local farmers,” said John Dasar, Plateau State head of the local poultry association.

In total, 12 farms have been so far affected by bird flu outbreak in the state.

The bird flu, also known as avian flu, is influenza that spreads among birds and can affect humans.

Dasar attributed the fast spread of bird flu in the central Nigerian state to the hesitation by farmers to report cases in their farms to the authorities.

At least 130 poultry farmers were affected by the disease in 2015 and 2016 but none of them had been compensated by the authorities, he said.

For this reason, rather than report the cases of bird flu in their farms to the authorities, the local farmers would prefer to sell their affected birds to desperate buyers to make quick money, Dasar noted.

“In the past, whenever we got wind of an outbreak, we alert government officials to take immediate action; that is the only option,” he said.

The latest outbreak of bird flu “is making farmers go through a tough time,” he told Xinhua, adding the disease had affected the supply of eggs and other poultry products in the markets.

Nigerian authorities said they are taking the right steps to curtail the spread of the disease to prevent great losses to the poultry industry and of human lives in the west African country.

On Jan. 25, the Nigerian parliament ordered an investigation into the recurring bird flu cases in some parts of the country.

At least 80,000 poultry were culled in 45 farms following an outbreak of avian influenza in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kano in January 2016.

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