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West African Headlines -- Bird Flu

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  • West African Headlines -- Bird Flu

    The DaBird flu claims 161 lives across the world
    By MOSHOOD ADEBAYO, Abeokuta
    Thursday, January 18, 2007
    http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpage...01-2007-08.htm
    <TABLE height=83 cellSpacing=5 width="38&#37;" align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top height=21>
    </TD></TR><TR><TD height=21>Photo: Sun News Publishing

    </TD></TR><TR><TD height=21>
    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    No fewer than 161 human deaths have been recorded as a result of the dreaded Avian Influenza (Bird flu) across the world since it attracted global attention a couple of years ago.

    The Permanent Secretary in the Ogun State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alhaji Tajudeen Obawunmi who quoted the World Health Organisation (WHO), added that 267 cases of the disease were recorded globally as at last Tuesday.
    According to him, the figures were only laboratory-confirmed even though experts said the Avian Influenza (A1) viruses may on rare occasions cause disease in humans.

    Speaking yesterday during a Public Enlightenment Committee on “Avian Influenza” in Abeokuta, Obawunmi also disclosed that close contact with infected birds or heavily contaminated environment poses serious threat.

    Describing the state as one with the highest concentration of poultry in the country, Obawunmi assured that the state government would not relent in its efforts at combating the spread of the Avian Influenza.
    “Although there is currently no known case of Avian Influenza in Ogun State, the government has been on the alert that appropriate technical assistance promptly reaches any community that may be affected,” he said.

    He assured that the current administration with its pro-active intervention was also contributing to long-term epidemic preparedness and capacity building in all parts of the state.
    Earlier in her welcome address, the State Chairperson of the Public Enlightenment Committee on Avian Influenza, Mrs. Yetunde Kujore urged participants to improve their personal hygienic practices “so as to curtail the spread of the disease among poultry birds.”

    Kujore who acknowledged the support of UNICEF in the fight against Avian Influenza, explained that both children and women stand to suffer most in the event of an outbreak of the virus.
    “I urge you all to see the challenge of the fight against the spread of Avian Influenza as an important one, because of its consequences on the economy and human lives,” she added.

    ******

    IRIN Africa -- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    NIGERIA: Fighting misconceptions is first hurdle in battle against bird flu

    http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=51904

    <SMALL>[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]</SMALL>


    <TABLE cellSpacing=5 cellPadding=5 width=250 align=left border=0><TBODY><TR><TD><SMALL>
    &#169; FAO</SMALL>
    <SMALL>Vaccinating poultry against avian flu</SMALL>

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    KANO, 24 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - “It’s a government set-up,” “It’s a white man’s disease,” “Getting close to chickens kills.” Since Africa’s first cases of the deadly H5N1 virus were reported in northern Nigeria early this month, rumours, conspiracy theories and scepticism have been rife.

    And as the federal government steps up the battle to stem the spread of the virus, many Nigerians are still puzzling over what to make of this strange poultry disease that has created such panic in the west.

    With national information campaigns not yet off the ground, the leading question is: “Can one still eat chicken?” Yes, say experts interviewed on TV and quoted in national newspapers - bird flu cannot be transmitted even from eating an infected chicken. “Just boil and boil and boil until the flu demon is cooked to death,” one such expert advised.

    But here in the mostly Muslim north, where at least 40 poultry farms have been infected, health officials are battling more than just plain ignorance. They also face the deep distrust that many Nigerians have toward their appointed leaders.

    It is an attitude some say could contribute to the spread of the disease, which has now been confirmed in seven of the nation’s 36 states, including the capital territory.

    “A lot of people think this bird flu is a set-up because they’ve had so many disappointments from the government,” said Faisal Lawal, who owns a business centre in the northern city of Kaduna. “Most people believe that anything from the government has to be self-interested and therefore it’s difficult to get them to believe this bird flu is real. Maybe they’ll believe it after a lot of campaigning. But ask them now and they will tell you: rubbish.”

    With Nigeria for years listed as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, much suspicion greeted news of the first confirmed case of bird flu at a poultry farm owned by the country’s Sports Minister Samaila Sambawa. A taxi driver who gave his name only as Timothy said: “It was all stolen money. Now they’ll just steal more.”

    And when the government offered to pay out 250 naira (less than two dollars) in compensation for every culled bird, reactions ranged from surprise to anger.

    Business centre owner Lawal said he had finally come to believe in the existence of bird flu when officials announced the compensation package. “The government was actually going to pay money? I thought, in that case, it must be real,” he said, laughing.

    But poultry farmers say the sum must be increased to keep farmers - 60 percent of them backyard producers - from continuing to bring infected birds onto the market, where they believe they can obtain a better price.

    “This is economics,” said Haruna Awalu, chairman of the poultry farmers’ association of Kano. “It will come to a point where farmers will prefer to sell their chickens than declare they are sick, because they will get a bigger margin.”


    <TABLE cellSpacing=3 cellPadding=3 width=180 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>

    </TD></TR><TR><TD style="BORDER-BOTTOM: #cccccc 1px dotted">Chickens foraging for food in northern Nigeria


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    Launching messages in local languages

    Juggling with two mobile phones, Awalu took a steady stream of calls all day from worried farmers. One woman wanted to know how to continue to feed her chickens now, given it was known she would die if she entered the pens. “Really, you won’t die,” Awalu reassured her. “Just wash your hands properly and make sure others stay away from your poultry.”

    A lack of campaigns in the local Hausa language remains a reason for concern, said David Heymann of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is assisting the Nigerian government in combating the virus. “Community perception of this problem has been recognised as a difficult issue,” Heymann said. “Plans are being put together to come up with a message that will be understandable and appropriate - the campaigns clearly have to be tailored to the needs of the community.”

    International health authorities fear the H5N1 strain could evolve into a virus affecting humans and have stepped up efforts to stave off a pandemic that could prove deadly. But few believe the Nigerian government is sufficiently equipped to stamp out the bird flu virus, let alone deal with a strain infecting humans.

    “Disaster management in Nigeria is almost zero,” said Emmanuel Ijewere, former director of the national Red Cross. “If there’s a major disaster in Nigeria, we won’t be able to cope.”

    Compounding the problem is the scepticism aired by some veterinary experts and health officials about the potential danger of the H5N1 virus. One veterinary assistant, for example, who had just destroyed hundreds of chickens on a farm outside Kano, told IRIN on condition of anonymity he didn’t believe it was bird flu at all.

    Taking off his gloves and facemask, he opined that the sickness affecting this farm was probably a new strain of Newcastle, a different more common poultry disease.

    And he added: “Okay, so everybody thinks it’s bird flu. Now, how many humans have died of that? Less than 200, right? Is that such a big deal?”

    This is a point of view shared by many in the north, including poultry farmers, poultry farmers’ chairman Awalu said.

    “We live with flu, we laugh about it,” he said. “Many see it as a white man’s disease. You are scared, but we are not. When we talk about health, you guys should be worried for us about malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis and the other diseases that are ravaging Africa.”

    ******
    Ghana Chronical
    http://www.ghanaian-chronicle.com/thestory.asp?id=452

    AMA to ban sale of foodstuffs on Agbogbloshie market road shoulders
    …To introduce food tables to sellers after fumigation exercise

    By Naa Norley | Posted: Thursday, February 08, 2007


    <TABLE cellPadding=1 width=100 align=left border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD align=middle></TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD align=middle>Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, AMA Major</SPAN></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    THE ACCRA Metropolitan Assembly met with queen-mothers of Agbogbloshie market last week-end over the fumigation exercise to be carried out by the Metro Health Directorate Department of the Assembly.

    According to the Assembly, the market needed urgent fumigation and desilting of drains to ease the flooding problems that affect the market after the slightest downpour.
    Interacting with the market queen-mothers, Mr. Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, the Mayor of Accra said the Assembly has come by the decision to restructure the market to suit modern market status since it’s becoming a norm for traders of the market to abandon their sheds and display vegetables on sacks on the shoulders of the main road which most of the time causes traffic congestion.
    He said the unhygienic way most women display and handle vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, cabbage etc needs to be properly addressed.
    He said most households in the city troop to Agbogbloshie, being the main food centre, due to the affordability in pricing hence the place must be kept clean.
    The Mayor lamented the unhygienic nature of corn mill and tomato mill machines and said, “It’s high time the metro health directorate moves to curb the situation”.
    He said after the fumigation exercise, the AMA would come out with samples of tables on which the women are expected to display their wares, noting that it would be an offence for anyone to display wares on the shoulders of the main road as was done before.
    He said the AMA bye-laws state that all food should be displayed in well ventilated nets to avoid flies settling on them and every food seller would be required to be innoculated and observe personal hygiene.
    He said the women should inform their colleagues from the hinterlands that the AMA would be fumigating the market and the place would be opened for business after the exercise.
    He said due to the poisonous nature of the exercise, all perishable foods should be kept out of the market.
    Mr. Blankson deplored the behaviour of some market women urinating into empty Milo tins instead of visiting the public place of convenience.
    He said the AMA information vans would visit the market to announce the start of the fumigation exercise but said the market women would be given ample time to remove their goods.
    Supt. Deborah Addison, Adabraka District Commander urged the women to desist from displaying their monies openly to avoid attracting thieves. She said drug peddlers and armed robbers always sojourn in market places and called on the women to expose such people, assuring them that the identities of complainants of such cases to the Police would be securely protected.


    [ENDS]

    ******
    The Guardian -- Nigeria
    http://www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article03

    Experts yet to locate root of Lagos bird flu infection
    By Ben Ukwuoma and Olukayode Oyeleye

    </I>SEVEN days after the report of the death of the first human victim of H5N1 bird flu, health officials are yet to ascertain the root of the virus, even as a family member of the deceased admitted in a private hospital in Lagos, is said to be responding to treatment.
    The Guardian's investigation around Oke-Afa near Isolo, where the deceased was said to have resided, showed that most of the inhabitants now live in fear as uncertainty about the disease looms large.
    They refused to speak with The Guardian, just like a member of the deceased family, Mr. Chukwuma Nwanze, declined comments, insisting that the family had decided not to speak on the issue again.
    However, The Guardian learnt that most of the samples collected randomly by officials from the Lagos Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Health and the Avian Influenza Control and Human Pandemic Preparedness and Response, around the area, including General Hospital, Isolo where the deceased was first hospitalised, tested negative.
    It was also learnt that when the deceased was admitted in the hospital, the symptoms were like those of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), prompting the doctors to seek laboratory diagnosis, which proved negative. It was after her referral to a high-profile private hospital in Lagos Island that the diagnosis of bird flu was suspected.
    It was the hospital authority, The Guardian learnt, that reported the case to the Federal Ministry of Health where preliminary analysis confirmed the virus.
    Efforts to reach the medical director of the hospital were futile but a source told The Guardian that the medical director, worried about the negative perception of Nigerians of diseases, would prefer to remain silent.
    Until the report, Egypt and Djibouti were the only African countries that had confirmed H5N1 bird flu infections in humans. Eleven people have died in Egypt.
    Experts said that cross-infection to humans is still relatively rare, and usually occurs where people have been in close contact with infected birds.
    The H5N1 virus has claimed at least 157 lives worldwide since it began ravaging Asian poultry in late 2003, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
    Meanwhile, the result of the laboratory tests which confirmed the first Nigerian victim of bird flu who died last month remains indisputable. This was disclosed in Lagos at the meeting of the National Steering Committee on Avian influenza.
    An official of the Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response Programme of the WHO, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, who confirmed this, said the test result was first found positive in Nigeria before it was sent to WHO reference laboratory for further confirmation.
    The Chief Epidemiologist at the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Dr. Jide Coker, at the meeting on Tuesday, disclosed that the possibility of other cases of human infections and deaths due to contact with the "index case" of last month could not be ruled out until more investigations were done.
    This, according to him, was one of the terms of reference for the team members during their visit to Lagos, which is expected to come up with statements on the general situation tomorrow.
    The team, Coker said, would also attempt to trace the possible source of the reported human infection, determine the human risk exposure in Lagos in poultry production and marketing chain as well as make recommendations on veterinary, health and communication measures in the state.
    Prof. Tim Obi, a veterinarian and team leader of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) technical team on Avian influenza in Nigeria, told The Guardian that there are now more cases of Avian influenza in poultry population in Nigeria than are currently acknowledged.
    While 19 states have been officially acknowledged as having positive cases of H5N1 Avian influenza infections, they are about 22 as Enugu and Adamawa states "have not been officially declared."
    He added that 52 local councils have now been confirmed, as opposed to the 49 acknowledged by the Federal Government.
    Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Jide Idris, observed that over 100 poultry farms have been visited in the state and most have recorded positive cases of Avian influenza. He identified porous borders and logistic problems as making the containment of the disease difficult.
    Dr. Omolara Olawale, Director of Veterinary Services in Lagos State, noted that most of the farmers whose flocks were affected were initially reluctant to report their cases because of poor compensations which were also delayed at first.
    A director in Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Femi Taiwo, at the forum, disclosed the lack of virology laboratory and facilities in the state, making it necessary to send samples to Abuja.
    On Tuesday, The Guardian was rebuffed at the residence of the late victim of the Avian influenza, whose mother was also suspected to have died of the same infection.
    Those who however spoke to The Guardian under conditions of anonymity in the neighbourhood confirmed that the victims live on [*snip*] Oke-Afa, Isolo.
    One of them disclosed that he was told the mother, who died first, had cough, one of the signs of bird flu. The other described as shocking to hear that the woman, who drove herself to the hospital for treatment died shortly afterwards, while the daughter reportedly had the same set of clinical signs.
    The woman, Abosede, aged 45 and a wife to an engineer, according to the information made available to The Guardian, was a mother of two sons and one daughter, Tolu, apparently being the victim, confirmed as positive to bird flu infection. Abosede died on January 6, while Tolu reportedly died on January 17, raising fears that the earlier death might have to do with the flu.
    Last edited by Theresa42; February 8th, 2007, 11:45 PM. Reason: Snipped home address of victims.

  • #2
    Re: West African Headlines -- Bird Flu

    Thanks, senegal1!
    ...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. - Sherlock Holmes

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