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The OIE/FAO technical team in Nigeria provided today an updated report (anglais)

Paris, 17 February 2006 - Upon its arrival in Nigeria at the beginning of this week, the joint OIE/FAO team of experts received a warm welcome from Nigerian Authorities, and in particular by the chief veterinary officer, Dr Junaidu Maina.

The priority of the team was to determine the extent of the outbreak and the effectiveness of the surveillance and control activities in place. An early assessment of the technical capacities at a national level showed that the country has available a fairly strong Veterinary Service with around 800 veterinarians and 7000 technicians. Therefore, it appears that there is sufficient technical personnel to implement the necessary control measures and to initiate a vaccination campaign if recommended by the experts.

However, it appears that the effectiveness of control activities against avian influenza in the country is made difficult by poor coordination between national and state authorities. As of today, official notification reports to the OIE indicate that the AI outbreaks are currently affecting three states, although unofficial information seem to indicate that the outbreaks have a wider distribution.

Basic control measures such as restriction of animal movements, quarantine, closing of poultry markets in affected areas, and border controls do not appear to be fully implemented. Also the team observed little awareness among the population regarding the risks of avian influenza and the protective measures that should be taken. Key members of the FAO/OIE team met with President Obasanjo to discuss the steps that should be taken to curb the spread of the disease.

While it is stressed that the consumption of poultry meat is safe if fully cooked (70° C ), OIE and FAO strongly recommend that people don't touch sick or infected birds but immediately alert the competent authorities of any suspect cases.

OIE and FAO emphasised again to the Nigerian Authorities that the influenza virus very often spreads through the movement of affected birds and that therefore it is extremely important to immediately stop the movement of poultry and their products from the affected areas, in order to be able to contain the spread of the disease. The two agencies have recommended these measures since the beginning of the Kaduna outbreak.

OIE and FAO again highlighted the importance of establishing compensation schemes which are necessary to encourage early disease reporting and prevent the marketing and consumption of infected poultry.

The OIE/FAO team will continue to work with Nigerian authorities in order to establish and implement effective measures to prevent further spread of the disease in the country and the region.