A strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza previously not recorded in sub-Saharan Africa has been detected in Nigeria for the first time, FAO said. Nigeria has recently reported two new Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks in the states of Katsina and Kano.
Laboratory results from Nigeria and an FAO reference laboratory in Italy show that the newly discovered virus strain (H5N1, clade 2, EMA3) is genetically different from the strains that circulated in Nigeria during earlier outbreaks in 2006 and 2007. The new strain has never been reported before in Africa; it is more similar to strains previously identified in Europe (Italy), Asia (Afghanistan) and the Middle East (Iran) in 2007.
"The detection of a new avian influenza virus strain in Africa raises serious concerns as it remains unknown how this strain has been introduced to the continent," warned Scott Newman, International Wildlife Coordinator of FAO’s Animal Health Service.
Since the avian influenza epidemic caused by the H5N1 strain started five years ago in Asia, the disease has affected over 60 countries; the vast majority of countries have succeeded to eliminate the virus from poultry. In Nigeria, the virus was first confirmed in February 2006 and infected poultry in 25 states before being contained.
FAO supports affected countries and countries at risk to detect bird flu outbreaks at a very early stage. FAO has also contributed to an efficient global response to HPAI.
In Nigeria, FAO has a team of animal health experts and veterinary epidemiologists working with the government and its veterinary services. FAO has assisted the government with disease surveillance and outbreak investigations, as well as establishing a stockpile of veterinary drugs both at central and state levels. FAO and the Federal Government of Nigeria have identified priority areas where animal health and transboundary animal disease prevention measures need to be improved.
Source: FAO – Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations